About Brain Aneurysms
Discovering a loved one has a brain aneurysm can be devastating, especially if you aren’t completely sure what that means. The following offers information about this issue to share with your family and friends. It can also provide some insight into potential signs of a brain aneurysm and what the next steps might be in the aftermath of one.
A brain aneurysm is a dangerous medical condition that can cause a host of life-threatening outcomes, but it is possible to avoid fatality or major deficits with awareness of warning signs and appropriate preventative care. It’s important to know how to identify the warning signs of a brain aneurysm and what treatment options are available.
What is a Brain Aneurysm?
A brain aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in a brain artery that develops where the blood vessel wall is weakened. Think of the artery as a garden hose. If the rubber in a section of the hose becomes thinner, the hose will develop a balloon-like bulge at that point. While the hose may still work, water pressure could cause leaks in the stretched out hose wall or even cause the hose to burst. Similarly, a brain aneurysm may allow blood to leak into the subarachnoid space around the brain, causing damage to brain cells. The aneurysm may also rupture, causing a serious and perhaps fatal stroke. A ruptured aneurysm requires emergency medical treatment, as the likelihood of death or disability is high. It is impossible to predict if and when a rupture of a brain aneurysm may occur.
Common Difficulties with Brain Aneurysms
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of brain aneurysms is that many do not cause very noticeable symptoms. When they do cause symptoms, they often mimic the symptoms of other less serious conditions. Many brain aneurysms do not rupture and remain undetected unless the individual seeks medical testing for unrelated issues, such as persistent headaches or head trauma. Ultimately, it is possible for an individual to have a brain aneurysm and have no idea about the condition or its level of severity.
When a doctor positively identifies an unruptured brain aneurysm, treatment may be appropriate to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing in the future. The type of treatment typically hinges on the patient’s overall health, the presence and severity of related symptoms, and the current size of the aneurysm.
Some risk factors may encourage physicians to push for aneurysm screening in a patient. For example, a family history of brain aneurysms may spur a doctor treating a patient complaining of persistent headaches to screen for aneurysms. African Americans, Hispanics, and women also tend to experience brain aneurysms at higher rates than other groups. While most brain aneurysms develop over time without any single discernible cause, some health conditions can either cause or exacerbate brain aneurysms, such as hypertension.
Brain aneurysm symptoms vary from patient to patient, and many people who experience brain aneurysm ruptures do not notice symptoms until just prior to their aneurysms rupturing. Many people with brain aneurysm symptoms simply disregard them because they are generally mild and very subtle. It is also possible to mistake the symptoms of a brain aneurysm for the signs of another condition.
Learn the common signs of brain aneurysms and symptoms to protect yourself and your loved ones. Being informed about potential indicators and common causes—and being able to explain them to your loved ones—is an important tool in the fight against aneurysms.
Medical research has yet to identify a definitive cause for brain aneurysms, but current data suggest possible links between brain aneurysms and some common medical conditions and lifestyles. However, many brain aneurysm cases arise with patients who have no known risk factors. The Lisa Foundation is invested in continuing Brain Aneurysm research efforts through the expertise of our medical advisory board.
Identify your personal risk factors and chances of developing a brain aneurysm.
Doctors can diagnose brain aneurysms using MRI/MRA screenings, CT Angiogram, and other diagnostic tools. If you or your doctor suspects a brain aneurysm, proper diagnostic tests can help identify a brain aneurysm in the earliest stages and determine the best potential treatments. These tests can also monitor known brain aneurysms, whether treated or untreated.
Discover Brain Aneurysm Treatment Options
The treatments available for brain aneurysms have advanced tremendously in recent years, and more accessible screening and prevention measures are available to patients. One of the missions of the Lisa Foundation is furthering access to treatment for people across all walks of life. Learn about the available treatment options so you can make more informed decisions about your care when discussing brain aneurysm prognosis with your doctor.