What You Should Know About Brain Aneurysms

I got the call late Tuesday night.  Shocking news about a friend who was found dead earlier that day from an apparent Aneurysm in the brain.  Words cannot describe how I felt.  How could this person no longer be with us?  She was only in her mid 30s.  A mother of 5, happily married with young children and a full life.  She was a very healthy lady that exercised, ate right, and lived a normal life.

Sadly, we can all do the right things; exercise, eat right, live right and still be taken out in an instant.  Unfortunately my friend was one of the victims of a brain Aneurysm.  But could she have done anything?  I heard she did complain of a severe headache and thought she had the flu.  Only minutes later she would be found lifeless by her husband in the shower.

Here is some vital and potentially life saving information about Aneurysms.  If you think you might be having an Aneurysm, don’t treat it lightly.  Call 911 and get to a hospital immediately!

What You Should Know About Cerebral Aneurysms

What is a cerebral aneurysm?
An aneurysm is a weak area in a blood vessel that usually enlarges. It’s often described as a “ballooning” of the blood vessel.

How common are aneurysms?
About 1.5 to 5 percent of the general population has or will develop a cerebral aneurysm. About 3 to 5 million people in the United States have cerebral aneurysms, but most are not producing any symptoms. Between 0.5 and 3 percent of people with a brain aneurysm may suffer from bleeding.

How do aneurysms form? Are people born with an aneurysm?
People usually aren’t born with aneurysms. Most develop after age 40. Aneurysms usually develop at branching points of arteries and are caused by constant pressure from blood flow. They often enlarge slowly and become weaker as they grow, just as a balloon becomes weaker as it stretches. Aneurysms may be associated with other types of blood vessel disorders, such as fibromuscular dysplasia, cerebral arteritis or arterial dissection, but these are very unusual. They may run in families, but people are rarely born with a predisposition for aneurysms. Some aneurysms are due to infections, drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine that damage the brain’s blood vessels, or direct brain trauma from an accident.

Warning Signs/ Symptoms

Unruptured brain aneurysms are typically completely asymptomatic. These aneurysms are typically small in size, usually less than one half inch in diameter. However, large unruptured aneurysms can occasionally press on the brain or the nerves stemming out of the brain and may result in various neurological symptoms. Any individual experiencing some or all of the following symptoms, regardless of age, should undergo immediate and careful evaluation by a physician.

  • Localized Headache
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Pain above and behind eye
  • Weakness and numbness
  • Difficulty speaking

Ruptured brain aneurysms usually result in a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which is defined as bleeding into the subarachnoid space. When blood escapes into the space around the brain, it can cause sudden symptoms.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately If You Are Experiencing Some Or All Of These Symptoms:

  • Sudden severe headache, the worst headache of your life
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Stiff Neck
  • Sudden blurred or double vision
  • Sudden pain above/behind the eye or difficulty seeing
  • Sudden change in mental status/awareness
  • Sudden trouble walking or dizziness
  • Sudden weakness and numbness
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Seizure
  • Drooping eyelid

Here’s to Your Health

Dr. K Bennett