What is a Brain Aneurysm?

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A brain aneurysm is when one has a bulge in a blood vessel located in the brain. A brain aneurysm can burst or leak and when that happens it can cause a hemorrhagic stroke. When an aneurysm bursts it requires immediate medical attention and can be life threatening if not treated quickly. Although aneurysms can burst or leak many never cause any problems.

Many people have aneurysms and don't know it until they are being testing for other conditions. Once an aneurysm is found a doctor may decide to go ahead and perform some sort of treatment to prevent it from bursting or they may choose to just monitor it.

What are the Symptoms of a Ruptured Brain Aneurysm?

  • Sudden and very severe headache (many people say its the worst headache they have ever had in their life)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • Stiff neck
  • Loss of balance with walking or loss of coordination
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seizure
  • A drooping eyelid
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion

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What are the Symptoms of a Leaking Brain Aneurysm?

  • Sudden and very severe headache (many people say its the worst headache they have ever had in their life)
    *it is very important not to ignore a very severe headache as a leaking brain aneurysm can lead to a ruptured brain aneurysm.

What are the Symptoms of a Brain Aneurysm That Have Not Ruptured or Leaked?
Most small aneurysms will not exhibit any symptoms however larger aneurysms may put pressure on the brain tissue and nerves and present with the following symptoms:

  • Pain above and or behind one eye
  • Severe headache
  • Dropping eye lid
  • Issues with speech
  • A dilated pupil
  • Change in vision or double vision
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the face
    If you present with any of these symptoms it is important to seek medical attention quickly to prevent the aneurysm from leaking or rupturing.

What causes a Brain Aneurysm?

Brain aneurysms begin to develop as a result of thinning artery walls. Aneurysms tend to form where the arteries branch because those sections of the vessel are weaker. An aneurysm can form anywhere in the brain however they are most commonly found at the base of the brain.

Scientists are not sure exactly what causes an aneurysm however they were able to narrow down some risk factors:

  • More common in adults over the age of 40
  • More common in woman
  • More common in older ager
  • More common if you smoke cigarettes
  • More common if you utilize recreational drugs
  • More common if you drink exessive amounts of alcohol
  • More common if you have high blood pressure
  • More common if you have had a brain injury
  • More common if you have a blood disease
  • More common if you have cancer of the head brain or neck
  • More common if you have an infection
  • More common if you were born with a tangled blood vessel in your brain
  • More common if you have a family history of an aneurysm

How Can a Surgeon Repair a Brain Aneurysm in Order to Prevent a Bleed or Leak?
If your doctor discovers an aneurysm in your brain there are a few ways they can go about repairing it based on its location, size, shape and some other factors. 2 main procedures are:

  1. Clipping - this is when your surgeon creates a small hole in you skull and places a metal clip at the base of the aneurysm to prevent it from leaking or rupturing.
  2. Endovascular repair - this is when your surgeon puts a small wire into an artery in your groin area and guides it through that artery to your brain aneurysm. This wire has a catheter attached to it which will allow your surgeon to insert a few thin metal wires into your aneurysm. These wires will cause a blood clot to form which will in turn prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.

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What are Some Complications That may Develop After a Ruptured Brain Aneurysm?

  • A repeat bleed: If an aneurysm has ruptured or leaked there is always the chance it may begin to bleed again. Another bleed can cause more damage to your brain cells.
  • Hydrocephalus: A ruptured aneurysm can cause blood to gather in the space between your brain and the tissue around the brain. When blood pools in this space it can cause a subarachnoid hemorrhage. This excess blood can begin to block circulation of the fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. This will eventually cause a build up of cerebrospinal fluid and increase the amount of pressure being put on the brain. This pressure can damage tissue in the brain.
  • Vasospasm: When a brain aneurysm ruptures it can cause some blood vessels in your brain to narrow which will in turn restrict the amount of blood flow to your brain cells. This will cause cell damage and cell death resulting in an ischemic stroke.
  • Hyponatremia: A ruptured aneurysm can cause the balance of sodium in your blood to become imbalanced and cause the sodium levels to drop. A drop in blood sodium levels can cause brain cells to swell causing damage.

Brain aneurysms if ruptured can cause my complications, therefore it is important to know and understand all signs and symptoms and make sure to quickly seek medical attention if you notice you or a loved one exhibiting these symptoms.

If you have had a brain aneurysm or stroke and are looking for an effective solution for your aneurysm or stroke rehab needs, please look into the NEOFECT line of Smart Rehabilitation Solutions, which include support from occupational therapists to maximize your rehabilitation, please call (866) 534-4989 or email contactus@neofect.com.

For more information on brain aneurysm:
Mayo Clinic - Brain Aneurysm
Healthline - Brain Aneurysm
WebMD - What is a Brain Aneurysm

Becky Alter
Clinical Manager / Occupational Therapist

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