LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(KTHV) -- A Conway man died shortly after finishing a half-marathon on Saturday.
36-year-old Steven Zimmer was an avid runner. But just seconds after he received his medal of completion, he collapsed. Onsite doctors and an EMS crew tried to save him. His cause of death is assumed to be a brain aneurysm, pending autopsy reports.
Brain aneurysms are not often talked about, but approximately 30,000 people suffer from a rupture each year in the United States. In fact, every 18 minutes, an aneurysm occurs without warning.
"Unfortunately, most of the time it's hard to know if you have an aneurysm. Most of them are small and don't really cause any problems until they rupture," said Dr. Eren Erdem, Director of Vascular Neurosurgery at Baptist Health Medical Center.
An aneurysm is a weak bulging spot on the wall of the brain. About 1 in 50 people has one, and for many, symptoms go unnoticed. In some cases, however, the aneurysm can rupture and can even be fatal.
"It can happen to anybody, but usually we don't see aneurysms less than 40-years old," he said.
Dr. Erdem works on these cases weekly. He said high impact physical activity can cause a brain aneurysm to rupture.
"It doesn't bring on, you had the already, but those cause it to rupture. Strenuous activity can definitely do that," he said.
If the aneurysm is caught before it ruptures Dr. Erdem said there is a less invasive method to treat them.
"In the past it was brain surgery and opening the head and just putting a hair clip type of clip basically shut-down this balloon. Now days we can do a simpler procedure by entering the body through the groin using a catheter using coils to protect the aneurysm and prevent bleeding," he said.
Brain aneurysms do run in families, making it important to get checked out. MRI Imaging and special CT Scans are the only way to truly know if you have an aneurysm.
"We recommend you get an imaging check-up around 40-years old," Dr. Erdem said.