Brain aneurysms: The family connection

WGEM News at Five
Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:28 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) -JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WGEM) --- If you’ve been to the doctor’s office, you know about the paperwork you have to fill out before you get to see the physician. The questions about your family history of cancer, heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes … each member of your family who has one of these conditions, increases your own risk of having it. But there is one condition that doctors don’t ask about, and it’s the one question that could save your life, and the lives of your family members. Ivanhoe talks to a doctor on a mission to add two words to that questionnaire that could impact your health.

Faith plays a major role in Ezra Sneed’s and Rhonda Baker’s lives.

Sneed says, “When you’re trusting the lord, you just feel good.”

These two sisters have a lot to be thankful for.

Baker says, “One morning I woke up and my vision was kind of blurry.”

An MRA scan showed Rhonda had not one, but two giant brain aneurysms.

Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, Neurosurgeon at Baptist Health, Jacksonville explains, “A brain aneurysm is like a bulge, like a stretch on a blood vessel.”

Doctor Hanel was able to snake a catheter from Rhonda’s groin to her brain, diverting blood from the aneurysm and stopping it from growing. He was also able to save Rhonda’s older sister from the same fate, or even worse.

Sneed says, “It was a surprise. I didn’t know what an aneurysm was.”

Doctor Hanel wants to change that. He is on a mission to spread the word about brain aneurysms and the family connection.

“It’s very important to educate all the way from primary care physicians to the whole population.” Explains Doctor Hanel.

If you have first degree relatives with a brain aneurysm, your risk of having one goes up from four to six percent.

Ezra had the same minimally invasive procedure as her sister and they are both living proof that it’s important to talk about brain aneurysms with your doctor and your family.

The MRA scan used to detect brain aneurysms is done on the same machine that’s used for an MRI, but it just looks at brain vessels and allows doctors to determine whether to do a procedure or monitor it. It’s vital that you find the aneurysm before it’s too late. If it ruptures, you have a four out of ten chance of dying from it. And, only about 20 percent who do survive get back to their full capacity afterwards.

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