What is a brain aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm forms if a weak area in the arterial walls of the brain protrudes and becomes filled with blood. An aneurysm is a dangerous condition that can develop to anyone at any age. Once it bursts, it is an emergency that can result to brain damage, stroke and even death if not promptly treated.

Take note that not all aneurysms will break. Some individuals have aneurysms that do not rupture in a lifetime.

Possible causes

Certain events can encourage the formation or rupture of a brain aneurysm. The reported factors that can instigate the rupture of an existing aneurysm include:

  • Intense anger

    brain-aneurysm
    Headache or pain above or behind the eye that can be mild or severe.
  • Strenuous physical activity
  • Consumption of soda or coffee
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Sexual intercourse

Who are at risk?

A brain aneurysm can affect anyone at any age, but those with atherosclerosis face a higher risk of forming aneurysms.

It is common among individuals between 35-60 years of age. Women are also at higher risk due to the low level of estrogen after menopause. If there is a family history, the risk is also high.

Other risk factors include:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Older age
  • Head injuries
  • Drug abuse particularly cocaine
  • Congenital constriction of the aorta
  • Congenital issues that affect the arterial walls
  • Cerebral arteriovenous malformation

What are the indications of a brain aneurysm?

Since aneurysms are unpredictable, the symptoms might not arise until they rupture. The large-sized or ruptured aneurysms usually have evident symptoms and necessitate emergency care.

The indications and warning signs of a brain aneurysm varies on whether it has ruptured or not:

Intact aneurysm

  • Headache or pain above or behind the eye that can be mild or severe
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Seizures
  • Visual defects

A doctor must be consulted right away if any of these symptoms are present.

  • Ruptured aneurysm
  • Neck stiffness
  • Abrupt, intense headache
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Light sensitivity
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty speaking or changes in the mental state and awareness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty walking or dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness

Management

The treatment for a brain aneurysm is based on the location, size and severity as well as if it has ruptured or leaking. Pain medications are usually given to alleviate the headaches and eye pain.

If the aneurysm is accessible, surgery can fix or cut off the blood flow to the aneurysm. This prevents further growth or rupture. Some of the procedures performed include:

  • Endovascular coiling
  • Surgical clipping

There are also lifestyle changes that can help manage aneurysms such as:

  • Cessation of smoking
  • Controlling high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • A diet that includes vegetables, fruits, lean meat, whole grains and low-fat dairy products
  • Regular exercise

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a brain aneurysm is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage aneurysms, register for a first aid and CPR course with Mississauga First Aid.

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