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Technology Increases Chances of Surviving Aneurysm

02/25/2015

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  • Each year, half a million people die from brain aneurysms -- when a blood vessel bursts in the brain.
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  • For survivors, physical disabilities are often severe.
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  • They may include memory problems, loss of balance, trouble speaking and even blindness.
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  • But new technologies are increasing survival rates and reducing disabilities.
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  • Beaumont Bacon is a survivor who makes light of her experience because she is a comedian.
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  • She uses humor to make others laugh.
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  • "That first year you're married, man, you have yourself strapped into that roller coaster ride of love..."
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  • Beaumont Bacon loves to make people laugh about the ups and downs of life.
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  • Now she's working on a new show.
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  • The subject will be something that nearly ended her life.
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  • "Welcome to the Beaumont Bacon fireside chats,
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  • where we will be discussing the events of my life, to put you at ease regarding my brain.
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  • On Sunday, January 31, 2010, I had a double brain aneurysm.
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  • Two blows to the head. Right between the eyes."
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  • An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel that can burst.
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  • If that happens in the brain, it can be deadly.
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  • The Brain Aneurysm Foundation says aneurysms kill 50 percent of the time.
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  • Michael Alexander is her doctor.
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  • He operated on Beaumont Bacon after her attack.
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  • "She had bleeding in the frontal area of her brain, so right above the eyes, and it was quite a bit.
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  • The part that was in the brain was about maybe the size of an egg.
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  • So, that's a fairly large bleed."
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  • Ms. Bacon had a better chance at survival than most people because of Dr.Alexander.
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  • He directs the Neurovascular Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
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  • The center offers new technologies that include threading a catheter into an aneurysm,
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  • then coiling in platinum wires to promote blood clots.
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  • This technique, or method, reduces the chances of another burst blood vessel.
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  • "You don't have to open up the skull or open up the brain to do surgery.
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  • It's all done from inside the artery.
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  • So it reduces the amount of blood loss, hemorrhaging during the procedure, and the recovery is much faster."
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  • For Beaumont Bacon's recovery, the hospital worked to prevent problems commonly found in patients with a burst aneurysm.
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  • The problems include brain swelling, or enlargement, and vasospasms that can shut down blood vessels.
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  • She spent a month in a coma -- unable to communicate with doctors, friends and loved ones.
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  • Health experts describe a coma as a deep state of unconsciousness,
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  • when the patient is alive but unable to react to his or her surroundings.
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  • Doctors warned she might never walk, or talk, or see, or swallow again.
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  • But with the help of her husband and a year of treatment, she recovered.
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  • Now, she is making people laugh.
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  • "WAUGGH!!! Oh, my God, he lost his job!"
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  • Dr. Alexander has plenty of good things to say about his patient.
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  • "Her strength of character and her fight and his devotion really helped her have a great recovery."
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  • "Just so you know, there are seven things I have learned about being in a coma.
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  • Number one: don't be in a coma. Number two: refer to number one."
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  • The Brain Aneurysm Foundation says severe head pain may be a sign of an aneurysm rupture.
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  • Knowing the warning signs and getting immediate care can increase survival.
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  • I'm Marsha James.
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  • Words in This Story
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  • aneurysm -n. a burst blood vessel in the brain
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  • thread(ing) - v. passing through something in a straight line
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  • coil(ing) - v. to move something around in circles
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  • rupture v. - to break or burst
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  • vasospasm n. - sudden narrowing of a blood vessel, reducing its size and flow
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