Though aneurysms can appear anywhere in the brain, they are most common in arteries at the base of the brain. Specifically, a cerebral or brain aneurysm occurs when a weak spot in the brain’s arterial wall bulges and begins to fill up with blood. It may also be called an intracranial aneurysm, and at times, can be a potentially life-threatening condition that can affect individuals of any age. This is why it is so important to know brain aneurysm causes so you can be familiar with this deadly occurrence.
If a brain aneurysm bursts, the emergency situation will likely result in a stroke, brain damage, or even death if not immediately treated. It is important to note, however, that not all aneurysms will rupture. In the United States alone, around 6 million people have aneurysms that have not ruptured, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. An estimated 50% to 80% of all aneurysms never rupture in a person’s lifetime, as most aneurysms remain silent until they actually begin to bleed or start growing to a size that pushes on a nerve or the surrounding brain.
Brain Aneurysm Causes
The development of brain aneurysms has long been considered a controversial topic. Currently, most researchers believe that a combination of factors — both genetic and environmental – can lead to the development of brain aneurysms. Some aneurysms may have strong genetic components, such as individuals with polycystic kidney disease or arteriovenous malformations, who are more likely to develop aneurysms. However, environmental pressures including hypertension can also lead to brain aneurysm development, as well as other outside factors like infections or trauma.
There are several conditions and lifestyle choices that are more likely to brain aneurysm causes including:
- Family history
- Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease
- Marfan’s syndrome
- Serious systemic infections
- Previous brain injuries
- Smoking or drug abuse
- High blood pressure
Women over age forty are also at higher risks for these brain aneurysm causes.
Furthermore, there are a number of events that encourage the development or rupture of an aneurysm in the brain. According to a study by the American Heart Association, potential triggers can include: intense anger, excessive exercise, coffee or soda consumption, straining during bowel movements, and sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of Brain Aneurysms
What is most dangerous about brain aneurysms is that they are unpredictable and may not show any symptoms until they rupture. Most symptoms and warning signs vary based on whether the aneurysm has ruptured or not, though large or ruptured aneurysms will usually show more definite symptoms and require more expedited medical care.
Symptoms of an unruptured aneurysm include: blurred or double vision, dizziness, seizures, and headache or pain behind or above the eye.
Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include: neck stiffness, sudden severe headache, sensitivity to light, drooping eyelids, convulsions, nausea or vomiting, loss of consciousness, and trouble speaking or a change in awareness and mental state, to name a few.
See your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms.
Treatment for Brain Aneurysms
Like the causes and symptoms of brain aneurysms themselves, the treatment options can also vary– based on the size, location, and severity of the aneurysm, as well as whether or not it has ruptured or is leaking. Sometimes, simple pain medication can help soothe symptoms like headaches and eye pain.
If an aneurysm is actually accessible, surgery is another option, as it can repair or cut off blood flow to the aneurysm, preventing further growth or a rupture. Surgeries include surgical clipping (an aneurysm is closed using a metal clip) or endovascular embolization or coiling (a catheter is inserted through an artery to the aneurysm and blood flow is blocked, which ultimately closes off the aneurysm). Both of these procedures should be done in a hospital where many similar procedures are done.
Several lifestyle changes can also help manage aneurysms, including: eating healthily, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Let Us Help
What’s most important to remember with any brain aneurysm is to ensure timely medical evaluation and treatment. Patients also need a good support system involving family, friends, healthcare providers, a therapist, and other patients who have experienced a similar illness. To learn more about treatments options and to find out how to best manage possible symptoms, contact Yashar Neurosurgery today.
Over the years, Doctor Yashar has become a preeminent Neurosurgeon in the Los Angeles, San Fernando, and Santa Clarita areas, specializing on all aspects within the field of Neurosurgery, along with a special emphasis on both Spinal Surgery and Interventional Neurosurgical Procedures. He and his team are committed to providing compassionate care and empathy to all of their patients.