A cerebral aneurysm is when there is a bulge in a weak area in a wall of an artery that may leak or rupture. A bulging artery puts pressure on the brain tissue or nerves depending on where it is located. If it bursts - or hemorrhages - blood will spill onto the tissue between the brain and the skull. This can lead to hemorrhagic stroke, brain damage or in rare cases, death.
Brain aneurysm causes
Causes and risk factors of a brain aneurysm include:
- Age - older individuals are more likely to develop aneurysms
- Excessive alcohol or drug use
- Family history/genetics
- Gender - specifically, females are more likely to develop aneurysms
- High blood pressure
- Past aneurysms
Aneurysms can develop after head trauma or infection - but these causes aren’t as common.
Symptoms of aneurysm
In many cases, there will be no visible symptoms of an aneurysm. When symptoms do appear, it is because the brain aneurysm has burst. The symptoms will appear suddenly. Emergency services should be called at 9-1-1 immediately. First-responders are necessary because they may have to use life-saving measures quickly. Symptoms of an aneurysm include:
- Sudden, severe headaches
- Blurred vision
- Changes in speech
- Neck pain
- Sensitivity to light
Brain aneurysm treatment and recovery
An unruptured brain aneurysm is normally found during unrelated tests/screenings. A ruptured brain aneurysm will be diagnosed using computerized scans and dye tests. Once a ruptured brain injury is diagnosed, there are a few different treatment options. Doctors will recommend the one(s) best suited to the person’s situation based on factors such as age, location and severity of the aneurysm. These treatment options include:
- Open surgery which enables the surgeon to place a clip around the base of the aneurysm, preventing blood from entering it
- Endovascular surgery which happens within the blood vessels. It’s a smaller, less-invasive surgery to implant shunts or coils
Alternatively, doctors may recommend observation and spend more time monitoring the aneurysm.
Coping with changes after a brain aneurysm
A brain aneurysm can have a variety of effects depending on how much blood there is and the damage it does to the brain tissue or other arteries. There can be changes to cognitive and physical abilities, vision, balance, and more. It’s important to keep in mind that treating the brain aneurysm will not reverse the effects it has caused.
That means that once the person is in recovery, they may have to learn new ways to complete activities of daily living (ADLs).