A brain aneurysm is a bulge formation or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain. A brain aneurysm can leak or rupture, causing bleeding in the brain which leads to a haemorrhagic stroke. It generally occurs in between the brain and the thin tissues covering the brain. This type of haemorrhagic stroke is called a subarachnoid haemorrhage. It could prove to be fatal if prompt action is not taken in such situations. However, most of the times Brain Aneurysms do not rupture, cause any health problems or present any symptoms. They can only be detected during tests.
What are the symptoms of Aneurysms?
Symptoms of Aneurysms may differ depending on the type of Aneurysm it is. The different types of Aneurysm are: Ruptured Aneurysm, Leaking Aneurysm &Unruptured Aneurysm
The main symptom of a ruptured aneurysm is the “worst headache” ever experienced.
Some common signs and symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include:
- Severe headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stiff neck
- Blurred or double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Drooping eyelids
- Loss of consciousness
In some aneurysm a small amount of blood may leak from it. This leaking may cause only a sudden, extremely severe headache. Often a more severe rupture follows leaking.
An unruptured brain aneurysm may produce no symptoms, particularly if it is small. However, a larger unruptured aneurysm may press against the brain tissues and nerves, resulting in:
- Pain above and behind one eye
- A dilated pupil
- Change in vision or double vision
- Numbness of one side of the face
Risk factors associated with Brain Aneurysm
There may be several factors which leads to the weakness in an artery wall and increase the risk of a brain aneurysm or its rupture. Brain aneurysms are more common in adults than in children and more common in women than in men.
Some of these risk factors of Brain Aneurysm develop over time while others may be present at birth.
Risk factors that develop over time Include
- Old age
- Cigarette smoking
- Drug abuse, particularly the use of cocaine
- Heavy alcohol consumption
Aneurysms may also occur after a head injury or from certain blood infections like mycotic aneurysm
Risk factors present at birth
Given birth conditions can be associated with a higher risk of developing a brain aneurysm:
- Inherited connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, weaken the blood vessels
- Polycystic kidney disease an inherited disorder that results in fluid-filled sacs in the kidneys leads to the increase in blood pressure
- Abnormally narrow aorta or the large blood vessel that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body
- Cerebral arteriovenous malformation is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain that interrupts the normal flow of blood between the two
- Family history or first-degree relative, such as a parent, brother, sister having the condition may increase the risk of developing a Brain Aneurysm
Complications of a ruptured Brain Aneurysm
The blood from a ruptured Aneurysm can cause damage to surrounding cells and can damage or kill other cells. It also increases pressure inside the skull, which when too high can lead to the disruption in the blood and oxygen supply to the brain resulting in loss of consciousness or even death.
Complications after the rupture of an aneurysm include:
- Re-bleeding An aneurysm that has ruptured or leaked is at risk of bleeding again which can cause further damage to brain cells
- Vasospas After a brain aneurysm ruptures, blood vessels in your brain may narrow erratically (vasospasm). This condition can limit blood flow to brain cells and cause additional cell damage and loss.
- Hydrocephalus Rupture of an Aneurysm may lead to bleeding in the space between the brain and surrounding tissue, which can block circulation of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This condition can result in collection of an excess cerebrospinal fluid that increases the pressure on the brain and can damage tissues
- Hyponatremia A ruptured brain aneurysm can disrupt the balance of sodium in the blood. This may occur near the base of the brain. A drop in blood-sodium levels or hyponatremia can lead to swelling of brain cells and cause permanent damage.
When to see a doctor
Aneurysms can appear anywhere in the brain, but they are most common in arteries present at the base of the brain. If you develop a sudden, extremely severe headache seek medical attention immediately. Call your local emergency number if someone complains of a sudden, severe headache, loses consciousness or has a seizure.