Sex Increases Risk of Brain Aneurysm Rupture

For someone with a brain aneurysm, having sex or drinking coffee could temporarily raise the risk of the aneurysm rupturing and causing a stroke, according to a new study.

Researchers identified eight triggers that seem to increase the risk of aneurysm rupture, though the increased risk only lasts for about an hour after the activity, said study researcher Dr. Monique H.M. Vlak, a neurologist at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Drinking coffee raises aneurysm rupture risk by 10.6 percent, vigorous exercise increases the risk by 7.9 percent and nose-blowing increases the risk by 5.4 percent, researchers found.

Meanwhile, sexual intercourse increases the risk by 4.3 percent, according to the study.

Brain aneurysms are present in about 2 to 3 percent of the general population, but only 9 in 100,000 of those people ever experience an aneurysm rupture, Vlak said. The findings are especially relevant to the people who do have aneurysms (which are often discovered accidentally via brain scans) and need to be cautious about their rupture risk.

The study was published today (May 5) in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Other triggers

Vlak and her colleagues found the triggers by interviewing 250 people who had suffered an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (a ruptured aneurysm that resulted in stroke). These people were asked to fill out a questionnaire on 30 potential triggers that may have occurred before the hemorrhage , and the intensity and frequency of the exposure.

In addition to the increased risk from coffee-drinking , physical exercise, nose-blowing and sexual intercourse, researchers also found that straining to defecate increased rupture risk by 3.6 percent and consumption of soda increased rupture risk by 3.5 percent.

Researchers also found that being startled increased the risk of rupture by 2.7 percent and being angry increased the risk by 1.3 percent.

Blood pressure risks

Brain aneurysms are caused by weaknesses in the blood vessel wall that causes the vessel to balloon. If the blood vessel ruptures, it could result in a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is a kind of stroke that is caused by bleeding at the base of the brain.

These triggers likely increase the risk of aneurysm rupture because they increase blood pressure, Vlak said.

The risks are "minor, but they all have the same temporary elevation of blood pressure," Vlak told MyHealthNewsDaily. "It seems that's the pathological mechanism."

Pass it on: Drinking coffee, having sex and blowing your nose temporarily increases the risk of aneurysm rupture, if you have a brain aneurysm. A ruptured aneurysm could lead to a stroke.

Follow MyHealthNewsDaily staff writer Amanda Chan on Twitter @AmandaLChan.

Amanda Chan
Amanda Chan was a staff writer for Live Science Health. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.