Father of 'Jeopardy!' star dies of brain aneurysm: Here's what you need to know

Phillip Roach died from an aneurysm on May 2 in his Halifax home, according to his obituary.

The father of Canadian-born
The father of Canadian-born "Jeopardy!" star Mattea Roach has died.

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Earlier this month, the 57-year-old father of Canadian "Jeopardy!" star Mattea Roach died from a brain aneurysm.

Phillip Roach died on May 2 in his Halifax home, according to his obituary.

According to the obituary, he was remembered for "his warmth and kindness which he displayed in equal measure to those he'd known for decades and those he'd just met."

Twenty-four-year-old Mattea Roach, who made headlines last year after holding a 23-game streak on "Jeopardy!," has yet to announce their father's death.

South of the border, it's estimated about 6.7 million Americans have unruptured brain aneurysms. It ruptures in about 30,000 people annually in the U.S., according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 50 per cent of cases, and about 15 per cent die before even reaching the hospital.

Here's what you need to know about the risks and symptoms brain aneurysms.

What is a brain aneurysm?

A cerebral or brain aneurysm is a balloon-shaped bulge in a weak area of an artery in the brain.

According to Brain Injury Canada, the bulging artery puts pressure on brain tissue or nerves, and is at risk of bursting because its walls are weak and thin.

"If it bursts – or hemorrhages – blood will spill onto the tissue between the brain and the skull," the organization said. "This can lead to hemorrhagic stroke, brain damage or in rare cases, death."

MRA Brain or Magnetic resonance angiography (MRI)  of Vessel in the brain sagittal view for evaluate them  stenosis (abnormal narrowing), occlusions, aneurysms (vessel wall dilatations, at risk of rupture) or other abnormalities. The Circle of Willis is a circle of vessels around the base of the brain where most aneurysms are found. (Getty Images)
The Circle of Willis is a circle of vessels around the base of the brain where most aneurysms are found. (Getty Images)

The brain relies on only two sets of major arteries for its blood supply, so it's important these arteries are healthy.

The Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF) explained these arteries that conduct blood to the brain (the internal-carotid and vertebral arteries) connect through the Circle of Willis — vessels around the base of the brain where most aneurysms are found.

"Brain aneurysms tend to occur at the junctions between the arteries that make up the Circle of Willis," the foundation said.

What causes brain aneurysms?

Older individuals are more likely to suffer from a brain aneurysm, and women are more likely than men.

However, there are other factors that could come into play, including:

  • excessive alcohol or drug use (particularly cocaine)

  • family history/genetics

  • high blood pressure

  • past aneurysms

  • smoking

Brain Injury Canada said they can also develop after head trauma or an infection, though these cases are rare.

What do brain aneurysm symptoms look like?

In most cases, symptoms of a brain aneurysm are not visible or felt; they only appear once an aneurysm has burst.

Woman suffering from vertigo or dizziness or other health problem of brain or inner ear.
Sudden and severe headaches in combination with blurred vision can be symptoms of a brain aneurysm. (Getty Images)

"The symptoms will appear suddenly," according to Brain Injury Canada. "Emergency services should be called at 9-1-1 immediately."

Symptoms can include:

  • sudden and severe headaches

  • blurred vision

  • changes in speech

  • neck pain

  • nausea

  • sensitivity to light

  • fainting

  • seizures

The Brain Aneurysm Foundation added a ruptured aneurysm is often described as the "worst headache of my life."

However, in rare cases, large unruptured aneurysms can press on nerves in the brain and cause some visible symptoms.

Diagnosis brain aneurysm and tablets. Medicine concept. A ruptured aneurysm is often described as the
A ruptured aneurysm is often described as the "worst headache." (Getty Images)

Those rare symptoms include:

  • blurred or double vision

  • a drooping eyelid

  • a dilated pupil

  • weakness or numbness

  • pain above and behind the eye

"If you experience these symptoms seek prompt medical attention," warned the foundation.

How are brain aneurysms treated?

Treatment for brain aneurysms is more promising than it was several years ago, according to BAF.

When deciding on the best treatment plan for an aneurysm, doctors may consider age of the patient, size and location of the aneurysm. They will also consider the risk of it rupturing if unruptured, and family history of aneurysms.

Generally, the two options available are:

  • Open surgery in which a surgeon exposes the aneurysm and places a metal clip across the base of the aneurysm so that blood cannot enter it

  • Endovascular therapy using coils, stents and a flow diversion device within the blood vessels

Observation and no treatment is also an option, with control of risk factors and possible repeat imaging.

Blurry Close-Up Back Shot in the Operating Room, Assistant Hands out Instruments to Surgeons During brain tumor Operation. Surgeons Perform Operation.
There are invasive and non-invasive treatment options for brain aneurysms. (Getty Images)

"Usually doctors treat the aneurysm with the method that presents the lowest risk and highest chance for success," explained BAF.

"It is important to keep in mind that the primary goal of treatment is to prevent the aneurysm from bleeding or re-bleeding.

The consequences of a brain aneurysm vary depending on its size and how much blood had leaked.

There can be changes to cognitive and physical abilities, vision, balance and more, Brain Injury Canada said.

"It’s important to keep in mind that treating the brain aneurysm will not reverse the effects it has caused. That means that once you’re in recovery, you may have to learn new ways to complete activities of daily living."

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