Friday, May 6, 2011

Strokes, Sex, Headlines, Reportage


Today’s hot medical press release is about a paper describing factors which may trigger the rupturing of a cerebral aneurysm.

The study was performed using a questionnaire and included 250 subjects who had experienced a stroke related to a cerebral aneurysm. According to the article, published ahead of print in the journal Stroke, there are eight factors which can trigger the rupturing of a cerebral aneurysm.

In decreasing order of importance they are coffee drinking, vigorous exercise, nose blowing, sexual intercourse, straining to defecate, cola drinking, being startled and being angry.

There was some good news. Alcohol consumption mostly lowered the risk of stroke. Masturbation and using marijuana had no effect.

The study had some limitations such as those whose strokes left them with serious disabilities or death were unable to complete the questionnaire.

I have two comments.

Why is it that sexual intercourse, only the fourth most important factor in causing aneurysm rupture, was featured in the headlines of all of the organizations that printed the story—BBC News, Huffington Post, MSNBC, Eurekalert, Reuters to name but a few?

What the paper did not address was whether the risks were cumulative. For example, what if you had sexual intercourse while angry? Or even worse, what if you drank some coffee, then went to the bathroom to defecate [a common occurrence], while sitting on the toilet blew your nose and then were startled? Perfect storm?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I personally know 2 people who've had cerebral aneurysms rupture and survived. One was riding a motorcycle in the desert. The other was eating dinner while on a first date.
Seems to me an N of 250 is not large enough to make conclusions.
CardioNP

ablestmage said...

Headlines are rarely summaries, and even less often wholly accurate of the story and are typically written by someone different than the author. I think if the headline were instead, "catfish telephone vampires ransack local aspirin barbeque" the effect would have been the same =P

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