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Brain Aneurysm - Facts

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

brain-aneurysm-facts

Aneurysm Definition

An aneurysm is an enlargement of an artery, which is caused by the weakening of the artery wall. Aneurysms may occur in the brain, in the aorta or in numerous other arteries. This article will focus on brain aneurysms. They are typically found during a medical exam for a different problem and often cause no problem.

Quite often aneurysms do not have symptoms, and they are not dangerously if they are very small. A subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) occurs when there is bleeding in the space between the brain and the thin tissue covering the brain. A ruptured aneurysm can cause a severe headache or a stroke.

One of my friends on Hubpages has a family member who may have a brain aneurysm, so I was asked to write this particular article.

Statistics

A brain aneurysm can develop in anyone at any age, but they are more common in people over the age of 40. Worldwide there are 500,000 deaths each year. One half of these victims are under the age of 50. On a more positive note most brain aneurysms do not rupture or cause any problems.

Approximately 30,000 brain aneurysms will rupture in the United States each year, and 40% of these ruptures will result in death within 24 hours. Hispanics and African-American people are approximately twice as likely to have a brain aneurysm.

In the UK approximately 1 in 12,500 will have a ruptured brain aneurysm each year.

There are a rising number of people suffering from subarachnoid hemorrhages (SAH) in India and China. There are somewhere between 76,500 to 204,100 cases that occur annually in India.

The Brain Foundation states that approximately 500,000 Australians and about 100,000 New Zealanders have a brain aneurysm.

brain-aneurysm-facts

Facts About Brain Aneurysm

Any condition causing your artery to weaken may cause a brain aneurysm. Atherosclerosis and high blood pressure are two of the most common causes. It is possible to be born with a weakness in one of your arteries, and deep wounds are also another cause. Tumors, drug use, heavy alcohol use, head injuries and some medical conditions are all possible causes of an aneurysm.

Small brain aneurysms typically have no noticeable symptoms unless they rupture.

The signs and symptoms when a rupture occurs, include:

  • Very severe and sudden headache ("thunderclap headache")
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden blurry vision or double vision
  • Sudden eye pain
  • Pain when looking at light
  • Stiff neck
  • Drooping eyelids or just one eyelid
  • Very sudden eye pain
  • Sudden numbness and weakness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Illness and vomiting
  • Seizure

Sometimes there is slight bleeding from a brain aneurysm, which will cause a severe headache. Unfortunately, a more severe leak from the aneurysm often occurs following the slight bleed.

While an unruptured small brain aneurysm may cause no symptoms, but a larger unruptured aneurysm may put pressure in the brain tissue, causing:

  • Pain above and behind one eye
  • One dilated pupil
  • Double vision or other changes in vision
  • Numbness on one side of the face

There are some specific things that can trigger a bleed from the aneurysm, including;

  • High blood pressure that is not controlled
  • Ongoing stress or even a sudden burst of anger
  • Working to lift or carry something that is very heavy, like furniture or weights

Dr. Bernard Bendok - Brain Aneurysm Symptoms and Treatment – Mayo Clinic

Diagnosis

A brain aneurysm is diagnosed by your physician using some type of imaging scan, as these tests show the shape, size and location of a brain aneurysm.

These tests include:

  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • CAT scan (computed tomography)
  • Diagnostic cerebral angiogram
  • MRA (magnetic resonance angiography)
  • CTA (computed tomography angiography)

Sometimes a ruptured aneurysm will not show up on the initial test, so if your symptoms indicate a ruptured aneurysm, then a lumbar puncture may be ordered, which will look for blood in the spinal fluid.

Treatment

If you have a small brain aneurysm with no symptoms, your physician will periodically check on the aneurysm, but no other treatment will be required.

If the risk of rupture is higher further treatment will be done. Several factors are taken into account that include age, overall health and medical conditions, aneurysm location and size, family history and risk of a brain bleed.

There are three types of treatment, including:

Open surgical (microvascular) clipping - through a skull incision the surgeon attaches a metal clip at the base of the aneurysm to pinch it off; unruptured aneurysms take 2-4 weeks for recovery while a ruptured aneurysm will take several weeks to months.

Endovascular therapy (coil embolization, stenting, balloon remodeling, flow diversion, intraluminal web device) - a catheter is inserted into a vein and threaded to the brain. Then, your physician “places a ball of wires (it looks like a tiny ball of yarn), most often made of platinum, in the aneurysm, sometimes with the help of small stents or balloons.” Recently, a new small device called the ‘web” may be used, which looks like a mesh ball made of nickel titanium.

Flow diversion - a catheter is inserted into a vein and places a mesh tube in the artery with the aneurysm

brain-aneurysm-facts

Possible Complications

A severe brain bleed causes serious brain damage and disability. Most aneurysms do not rupture. If a brain aneurysm leaks or bursts open the pooling blood irritates the brain tissue. A stroke or brain damage may be the result.

Other complications include;

  • Vasospasm happens if the blood vessel narrows as less oxygen reaches the brain
  • Hydrocephalus occurs when there is a buildup of spinal fluid around the brain
  • Coma can occur when you lose consciousness for days or weeks
  • Seizures or muscle convulsions that can cause more brain damage
  • Hyponatremia happens when the blood’s sodium level changes and makes the brain cells swell, causing further damage

Aortic Aneurysm: What is it and how is it treated?

Prevention

There are a few ways to help prevent aneurysms, including:

  1. Quit smoking
  2. Manage any health condition carefully, especially high blood pressure
  3. Eat a healthy diet
  4. Manage your stress with professional help 8if necessary

Conclusions

A sudden, severe headache without signs of a stroke needs immediate medical intervention. Most brain aneurysms cause no problems, but living a healthy life style is important.

References

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/brain-aneurysm/symptoms-causes/syc-20361483
  2. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/aortic-aneurysm/what-is-an-aneurysm
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/156993
  4. https://www.gethealthystayhealthy.com/en-au/articles/cerebral-aneurysm
  5. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/brain-aneurysm/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aneurysm
  7. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16800-brain-aneurysm
  8. https://bafound.org/about-brain-aneurysms/brain-aneurysm-basics/brain-aneurysm-statistics-and-facts/

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 03, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

I have taken care of patients like your friend, and it is always scary. We never know if someone will make it when in that situation.

The other lady that died instantly probably didn't know she had an aneurysm. That unexpected death is so hard for family.

All we can do is to try and live healthy and trust God.

My Hubpage friend said the article helped her know what questions to ask the doctor, and that is all I hope for, just to educate on medical problems.

Thank you for your comments.

Happy Friday, Brenda!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on September 03, 2021:

Pamela

I hope this article helps your friend.

Aneurysms scare me.

I had a friend who had one and had to lay still in hospital for quite a time.

First an induced coma, then that metal plate.

She lived for many years after this, but it was quite scary.

Then another lady came to work one day at a local grocery store when one hit here as she simply was walking across the floor.

She fell to the floor & died instantly.

I'm sure as a RN you've experienced these before.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 03, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

I am glad you knew some good questions to ask. I know how worried you must me. I hope your mom will be okay.

I think getting two neurosurgical consults is a good idea as you will get two opinions. Let me know how she does Flourish. I will hope for the best.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 02, 2021:

Pamela, My mom's appointment was today and she does have a small brain aneurysm about the size of the head of a pencil eraser. It's in a blood vessel that connects to the cerebellum. That may be why she was walking sideways/wobbly/strange for a clip and her blood pressure has been wildly fluctuating. She's getting two neurosurgical consults. I appreciate your level-headed information. It helped me in asking questions of the doctor today.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 02, 2021:

Hi Sp:

I think anyone wants a treatment soon then later. If you have symptoms you really need to seek medical help as it just might save your life.

I appreciate your comments, as always. Take care.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on September 02, 2021:

Yikes, this is scary to read. I definitely hope anyone with persisting symptoms would get this addressed. I would be scared if the option initially was to surveil and monitor it for a while prior to doing anything. I think I would want it out asap.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 02, 2021:

Hi Swati,

I am glad you found my article informational. Thank you for your comments.

Swati Sharma from India on September 01, 2021:

A very informational article is given by the author through her article, thank you for sharing with us.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 01, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I am glad you found the information informative. It is good to know the symptoms. It seems everyone knows someone who died from this problem.

I appreciate your comments. I hope you are having a good week!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 01, 2021:

Great information, Pam, that we should all be aware of. Educating ourselves and knowing what the symptoms are is key. I also had a couple-worker die of this a few years ago. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 01, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

There are a lot of scary things that could happen, but don't worry about what hasn't happened. I am glad you found this article very educational.

Your praise makes me blush again! I always appreciate your comments. I hope you are doing well.

manatita44 from london on September 01, 2021:

Beautifully written and very educational. I read all your statistics and I find myself thinking of Covid-19. Only in the sense that the rates are much lower now and that there are so many other things out there than can hurt us. Scary! Educational and exquisitely written, as usual.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 01, 2021:

Hi John,

I absolutely agree with you. Knowing symptoms is important. I appreciate your comments. I hope you are having a good week.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 01, 2021:

Thank you for sharing this information, Pamela. It is always good to have knowledge of the symptoms associated with these types of conditions.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 01, 2021:

Hi Linda,

Brain aneurysms are fairly rare. Your father's situation does happen sometimes, and I hate that he was not diagnosed properly.

My husband had surgery for an aortic aneurysm that was accidentally found when he fell and broke his leg.

I want people to not ignore symptoms as there are treatments, but I think it is scary too,. I still believe it is better to be informed.

Thank you so much for your comments. I hope you are doing well.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 31, 2021:

Pamela, this is really scary stuff. As you know, my Dad died from an aortic aneurysm; there were signs but his doctor blew it off as just his bad back. A brain aneurysm sounds like it could just come out of nowhere.

Thank you for educating us on this. You won't know how many lives you might save from this.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Shauna,

I think this is scary stuff. There are times where people have symptoms, and it is important not to ignore them.

I am glad you liked the article. I always appreciate your comments. I hope you are having a good week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Vidya,

Brain aneurysms do catch people unaware, but there are symptoms sometimes that can be treated.

I am glad you like my medical articles, and your comments are always appreciate. I hope you have a great day too!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 31, 2021:

This is scary stuff, Pamela. For something that spans the gamut of perhaps showing no symptoms to that which can kill a person is nothing to sneeze at.

You did a wonderful job of presenting the facts and various outcomes. Well done!

VIDYA D SAGAR on August 31, 2021:

Thanks for the valuable information on brain aneurysm, Pamela. Though it is mostly catches one unawares, knowing the risk factors is helpful. I love your medical articles Pamela. They are very helpful. Have a great day.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Greg,

It is heartbreaking when someone passes away at such a young age. Unfortunately, children can be born with a weakened area of an artery. I am glad you found this information useful. I always hope my medical articles do make a difference. I loved being an RN, but in retirement I can write medical articles.

I appreciate your comments, Greg.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Adrienne,

A brain aneurysm can certainly be a silent killer as often there are no symptoms until it ruptures. However, If you do have symptoms there is a chance to get medical help. There are babies that have a brain aneurysm, which is awful.

Making healthy choices do give us a better chance of avoiding all diseases. Thank you for your generous comments, Adrienne. I hope you are having a good week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Linda,

I am glad you found this article informative.Thank you for your very thoughtful comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Olusegun,

I am glad you found this article to be informative. I appreciate your comments.

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 31, 2021:

Pamela - many years ago, when I was in high school a friend of mine passed away from this. She was far too young, and it was so tragic. This advice and guidance is useful information, particularly the part about symptoms that need immediate attention. Thanks for sharing your expertise with the world. It can and will make an important difference.

Adrienne Farricelli on August 31, 2021:

Thank you for sharing these important brain aneurysm facts. On top of heart attacks, this sounds like another potential silent killer, where one may not know about it until it hits. Knowing about the potential triggers though such as smoking, too much stress and high blood pressure can help us gain at least some sense of control, although it looks like in some cases people may sadly be born with weak arteries.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 31, 2021:

This is a very informative article, like all your medical articles. Thank you for sharing the useful facts, Pamela.

OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on August 31, 2021:

This is educative. I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Peggy,

I do want to provide articles that elp people with their medical issues, so I appreciate your comments, wasd always.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 31, 2021:

Hi Pamela, You provide such a valuable service to readers of your articles. Thanks for this information about brain aneurysms and all of the other articles you continually write.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Bill,

If your neighbor had sought help he might have made it as you should not ignore the symptoms.

I am glad you always learn something new about medical problems from these articles. I appreciate your very nice comments.

Happy Tuesday to you too!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 31, 2021:

I always learn something new from your articles, and for that I thank you. We just had a neighbor die from one of these; the warning signs were there, but he ignored them, thinking it was something else.

Anyway, Happy Tuesday, my friend. Great article!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

I am glad you find this article to have valuable information. You made such sweet and thoughtful comments. You touch my heart. I do want to help people learn about diseases and disorders that could affect them or a loved one.

Thank you so much for your comments.

Much love and blessings for you too!

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on August 31, 2021:

Pamela, this is an interesting and informative article about Brain Aneurysm. You always give us so much valuable information about different diseases. Without a doubt you do it for a noble cause. May God reward you the very best. Amen! It is a beautiful way to serve humanity. And I always appreciate your efforts very much. Stay safe and healthy!!

Many Blessings and Love to you

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

It is good to be aware of symptoms of different medical conditions, even when they are not too common. I am glad you found the article informative.

I appreciate your comments. I hope you have a great day!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Dora,

Quite often that is exactly what happens. Thank goodness it is not too common. Sometimes there are symptoms first and the aneurysm can be treated.

Thank you for your comments. Stay safe and healthy!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

I am glad this article made you feel better. Your mother has so many symptoms and there has to be something causing them. I hope the cat scan gives you some much needed answers. There may be more tests before you know everything.

I'm glad your mom got and appointment. I pray you get some answers soon. Let me know what your mother finds out if you can, Flourish.

Rosina S Khan on August 31, 2021:

I am glad to know about the facts of Brain Aneurysms. Thanks for alerting us to this health issue. It really was helpful and informative. Thank you for such a marvelous and educative article, Pamela.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 31, 2021:

Thanks for these facts on brain aneurysm. This is very serious since the symptoms do not appear until the damage is done. The prevention tips are very helpful.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 31, 2021:

Thank you so much for writing this, Pamela. This actually made me feel better compared to the scary worst-case scenario information I was running into. You are level-headed and present medical information in a straightforward manner, and I appreciate it. My mother had the CAT scan yesterday. She had experienced sudden unilateral hearing loss, a painful lump in the lymph area behind her ear that may or may not be related, headache (she almost never has headaches), walking oddly, memory issues, and massive fatigue. Because of COVID, it was extremely hard to get an appointment with her primary to get this checked out initially. Thanks again for the information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2021:

Hi Liz,

Unfortunately, your experience is typical. There is effective treatment, but only if the aneurysm is diagnosed.

I appreciate your comments, as always.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 31, 2021:

This is a well-structured and informative article. People I have known who sadly have died from this condition, were unaware of it until it was too late.

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