Shining a light on aneurysm risks

Gone too soon: Cheng is best known for her renditions of Chinese New Year songs. — Instagram photo

Doctors caution against unhealthy life choices after singer’s untimely death

IPOH: The unexpected death of a popular Malaysian artist at a young age has brought attention to a medical condition known as a brain aneurysm.

Queenzy Cheng, a former member of girl group M-Girls, was filming for the social media channel Squad Sekawan when she collapsed. According to fellow artiste Chai Zi, Cheng was perfectly fine just a couple hours before and even had a nice breakfast before starting work.

Cheng was 37 when she died on Tuesday.

Neurosurgeon Dr Cheang Chee Keong said cerebral aneurysm, also known as brain aneurysm, is a bulge in a weak or thin spot of a blood vessel in the brain.

He said although most aneurysms are small and don’t cause issues, a ruptured brain aneurysm is life threatening and requires emergency medical treatment.

Dr Cheang said it is similar to how a water pipe with high pressure balloons up and then bursts.

About 4% of the adult population have a brain aneurysm, meaning one in every 25 people.

“Usually aneurysm is either caused by weakening of brain vessels or some people are born with a brain aneurysm.

“The following conditions and situations can weaken your artery walls over time including smoking, high blood pressure or excessive substance use,” he said in an interview.

Dr Cheang added the risk of developing the condition is higher for those in middle age or the elderly, but cases in individuals in their mid-20s born with weakening vessels have also been observed.

“There is a higher chance of developing the condition involving family members with a history of aneurysm.

“The risk increases even more if you have two or more family members such as siblings or parents with an aneurysm,” he said.

Dr Cheang said it is important to consult a neurosurgeon for regular checks, who would accordingly advise if a screening is necessary.

He said the size of the aneurysm larger than 7mm often requires treatment.

He added that more than 30% of patients with severe brain aneurysm die before reaching the hospital and that those brought in conscious still have a 10% of risk of dying.

“This condition must not be taken lightly, especially those with a family history of sudden death.

“Always practice a healthy lifestyle, exercise and eat nutritious food,” he said.

Consultant paediatrician and paediatric neurologist Dr Alex Khoo Peng Chuan said a bulging aneurysm could put pressure on the nerves or brain tissue.

He said the artery might burst or rupture, spilling blood into the surrounding tissue, causing a haemorrhage.

Dr Khoo said researchers think that blood pressure is the most common cause of a rupture.

“The best way to prevent getting an aneurysm or reduce the risk of an aneurysm growing bigger and possibly rupturing is to avoid activities that could damage blood vessels.

“Things to avoid are definitely smoking, use of substances and eating a high-fat diet,” he said.

Dr Khoo said an unruptured brain aneurysm may not have any symptoms, especially if it is small.

“However a larger unruptured aneurysm may press on brain tissues and nerves,” he said, adding that symptoms include pain above and behind one eye, blurring of version, unsteady balance and giddiness.

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