An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery, an inflated balloon of blood. Aneurysms can occur in many parts of the body. They usually develop where the pressure is strongest, that is, in areas where blood vessels divide and branch off. An aneurysm is extremely dangerous since it may result in rupture and subsequent hemorrhage or the development of a serious clot.
Unruptured brain aneurysms are typically completely asymptomatic, showing no symptoms. These aneurysms are typically small, usually less than one-half inch in diameter. However, large unruptured aneurysms can occasionally press on the brain or the nerves stemming out of the brain and may result in various neurological symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, regardless of age, you should undergo immediate and careful evaluation by a physician.
- Localized Headache
- Dilated pupils
- Blurred or double vision
- Pain above and behind eye
- Weakness and numbness
- Difficulty speaking
Ruptured brain aneurysms usually result in a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which is defined as bleeding into the subarachnoid space. When blood escapes into the space around the brain, it can cause sudden symptoms.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately If You Are Experiencing Any Of These Symptoms:
- Sudden severe headache
- Loss of consciousness
- Stiff Neck
- Sudden blurred or double vision
- Sudden pain above/behind the eye or difficulty seeing
- Sudden change in mental status/awareness
- Sudden trouble walking or dizziness
- Sudden weakness and numbness
- Sensitivity to light
- Drooping eyelid
Causes of an Aneurysm
There is no clearly recognized cause for the development of an aneurysm. Some aneurysms are congenital, already present at birth. Others may result from a slight defect in part of an arterial wall. Though there is no known cause of aneurysms, there are risk factors which make it more likely that a particular individual may develop one. These risk factors may include:
- Poor elasticity of arterial walls
- Plaque buildup on arterial walls
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Infections of the blood
Types of Aneurysm
Aneurysms can occur in many different parts of the body. They are usually categorized according to the types which occur most frequently:
Aortic aneurysms – These aneurysms occur along the aorta, the major artery leaving the heart.
Cerebral aneurysms – These aneurysms occur in arteries supplying the brain.
Peripheral aneurysms – These aneurysms form in blood vessels in other parts of the body, including the leg, groin, neck or abdominal area.