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Brain Aneurysm

A brain aneurysm, or cerebral aneurysm, is a bulge in a weakened area of an artery in the brain. As the bulge continues to expand, the wall of the blood vessel becomes too thin and ruptures. Thus, causing bleeding into the space around the brain.

Most brain aneurysms do not produce symptoms until they rupture. A ruptured brain aneurysm is a medical emergency that can result in serious problems such as stroke, brain damage, or even death.

What causes brain aneurysm?

Brain aneurysms develop when the walls of an artery in the brain become thin and weak. This weakening can be due to various factors including genetic conditions and aging.

Aneurysms typically form at branching points in arteries where the blood flow changes, causing increased pressure on the artery walls.

The following conditions and situations can damage the artery walls over time:

·      high blood pressure

·      smoking

·      Excessive use of alcohol

It is possible to have an issue with blood arteries before birth, which can lead to brain aneurysms.

What are the symptoms of a brain aneurysm?

Most brain aneurysms do not cause any symptoms until they rupture. When this happens, it can lead to a sudden, severe headache, often described as the worst headache ever experienced. Other symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm may include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma and death

Symptoms of an unruptured brain aneurysm include:

  • Reduced eye movement
  • Headache
  • Vision changes
  • Eye discomfort

What Happens When It Ruptures?

When a brain aneurysm ruptures, it causes bleeding in the brain, leading to a condition called subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). 

This can result in serious health problems, including stroke, brain damage, and even death. The likelihood of death or disability increases the longer the aneurysm remains untreated after rupturing.

Who is at risk?

Several factors can increase the risk of developing a brain aneurysm, including:

  • Gender: Women are more likely to develop brain aneurysms than men.
  • Family history: People with a family history of brain aneurysms are more likely to develop them.
  • Inherited conditions: Genetic conditions, that affect the blood or blood vessels such as:
    • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
    • Polycystic kidney disease

Acquired risk factors for aneurysm formation may include the following:

·      Smoking

·      Head injury

·      High blood pressure

·      Advancing age

·      Infection

·      Alcohol consumption

·      Atherosclerosis

·      Tumor or cancer in the neck or brain

How is a brain aneurysm treated?

Treatment for brain aneurysms depends on various factors, including the size and location of the aneurysm, the patient’s age and overall health, and the patient’s symptoms. Treatment options may include:

  1. Observation: Small, unruptured brain aneurysms that are not causing symptoms may be monitored with regular imaging tests.
  2. Medication: Medications, such as blood pressure-lowering drugs, can help reduce the risk of rupture in unruptured brain aneurysms.
  3. Surgery: Surgical options for treating brain aneurysms include:
    • Clipping– Clipping involves placing a clip at the base of the aneurysm to prevent blood flow into it
    • Coiling– Coiling involves inserting a catheter into the artery and releasing a coil into the aneurysm to promote clotting.
    • Flow diversion- Flow diversion involves placing a stent in the artery to divert blood flow away from the aneurysm.

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