Everything you need to know about brain aneurysms and how to identify them

A brain aneurysm is a weakness in the wall of one of your brain’s blood vessels. Blood is constantly coursing through your brain, and that weakness may eventually bulge outwards, or even rupture, allowing blood to leak out into the surrounding brain tissue.

A ruptured brain aneurysm is a medical emergency with sudden and devastating effects. It’s vital that you recognise the symptoms, and its useful to learn more about what an aneurysm is in order to do so.

What is an aneurysm and how do I identify one?

1) Small, unruptured aneurysm. These are relatively common – Prevention cites data suggesting that between 6% and 9% of the population may have a small aneurysms, and Healthline explains that an estimated 50 – 80% of aneurysms will never rupture in a person’s lifetime. These small aneurysms are completely asymptomatic, meaning you will never know if you have one.

2) Bulging, unruptured aneurysm. The Brain Aneurysm Foundation explains that some enraptured aneurysms can get big enough that they press on the brain or nerves and cause a range of neurological symptoms. If you experience any of the following, you should contact your doctor immediately.
– Localized Headache
– Dilated pupils
– Blurred or double vision
– Pain above and behind eye
– Weakness and numbness
– Difficulty speaking

3) Leaking aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, blood leaks out into the brain. It’s usually only a very small amount, but even tiny changes can have a devastating effect on the brain, so the symptoms caused by a ruptured aneurysm are usually sudden and severe. If you or someone around you experiences these symptoms you should seek immediate medical attention.
– Headache (sudden and severe – the worst headache of your life)
– Loss of consciousness
– Nausea/Vomiting
– Stiff Neck
– Sudden change in mental status/awareness
– Sudden trouble walking or dizziness
– Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
– Seizure
– Drooping eyelid

Who is at risk?

1) Age and genetics. The Brain Aneurysm Foundation explains that most people are between 35 and 60 years old, and women are more susceptible than men. You’re more likely to have a brain aneurysm if someone in your family has also had one.

2) Lifestyle factors. Drug and alcohol abuse are big factors, and the risk is particularly high in those who abuse cocaine. Smoking is also a huge factor. Head injury can also be a factor, so if you’ve had a significant knock to the head it’s worthwhile seeking medical attention. Your doctor may suggest an MRI scan to see if there is any damage to your brain. WebMD explains that in most cases an unruptured aneurysm wouldn’t be operated on anyway, but it’s vital information to have so you can act fast and minimise any further risk factors.

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, one in fifty people in the United States has an unruptured brain aneurysm, and one ruptures every 18 minutes. Forty percent won’t survive. That’s why it’s so important that we understand the risk factors and symptoms of a bulging or ruptured aneurysm. Share this article with your friends and family today.