Think Neuro

24. Treating the Blood Vessels That Fuel Your Brain | Dr. Walavan Sivakumar

Episode Summary

Your brain is an energy hog. It accounts for just one percent of your body weight, but it consumes about 20 percent of your total energy. The blood carries oxygen and 20 percent of blood flow goes to the brain, because all that work requires oxygen. Large arteries are constantly rushing blood to your brain, where it filters into smaller and smaller vessels. All that pressure can cause problems. If one of those tiny vessels is weak, it can bulge like a balloon. Dr. Walavan Sivakumar, a neurosurgeon, takes a special interest in these balloon-like malformations, called aneurysms, because when they burst, they fill the brain with blood, and can be fatal in about half of all cases —unless they get immediate care from a neurovascular surgeon like him. Studies suggest that at least 3 percent of people are walking around with a vascular malformation like an aneurysm. Most are not a problem and are found incidentally because of other reasons. We can protect ourselves by controlling our blood pressure and avoiding smoking, which weakens artery walls. Listen to this episode to hear more about how to care for the intricate system that supplies blood to your energy-hungry brain and what to do if something goes wrong.