Bobbye Cohen lived with a small, unruptured brain aneurysm for years. It was discovered after she was checked for a heart health scare. Doctors kept an eye on it, which is common with small aneurysms. “We knew that if I ever said that I had the worst headache of my life, it was a 911 call,” Bobbye recalls.
After 9 years, that headache came. Her aneurysm, although still small, ruptured. Mike Cohen, Bobbye’s husband, recounts: “I got her to UVA Health, where they started treating her immediately.”
Aneurysms Can Lead to an Emergency
Luckily, a UVA Health team was able to quickly get Bobbye help. “She had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, and this was complicated by the fact that she also suffered a pretty significant cardiac injury,” says Ryan T. Kellogg, MD, a neurosurgeon and brain aneurysm specialist at UVA Health. Kellogg and his team helped Bobbye survive her aneurysm rupture. “When Bobbye initially arrived, she was neurologically very unstable. She was in a deep coma.”
What Is a Brain Aneurysm?
A brain aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in a blood vessel in the brain. As long as aneurysms stay small and don’t leak or break (called a rupture), they usually don’t cause any symptoms. You likely wouldn’t know you have an unruptured brain aneurysm until it’s found during a medical test for something else, like Bobbye did.
“Bobbye's is actually a pretty common scenario,” says Kellogg. “Monitoring small aneurysms is something we do frequently, because if they do start to change size or shape, then we start to have a more serious conversation about whether that should be treated.”
Surviving a Brain Aneurysm Rupture
Concerned About Brain Aneurysms?
If you think someone is having a brain aneurysm or stroke, call 911 right away. Talk to a UVA Health primary care doctor about your stroke or aneurysm risk.