Brain Aneurysm - Describe Your Experience

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What is a brain aneurysm and what causes a brain aneurysm?

The Circle of Willis is the junction of the four many arteries, two carotid arteries and two vertebral arteries, that supply the brain with nutrition (especially oxygen and glucose). This loop of arteries is located at the base of the brain and sends out smaller branch arteries to all parts of the brain. The junctions where these arteries come together may develop weak spots. These weak spots can balloon out and fill with blood, creating the outpouchings of blood vessels known as aneurysms. These sac-like areas may leak or rupture, spilling blood into surrounding brain tissue.

Aneurysms have a variety of causes including high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, trauma, heredity, and abnormal blood flow at the junction where arteries come together.

There are other rare causes of aneurysms. Mycotic aneurysms are caused by infections of the artery wall. Tumors and trauma can also cause aneurysms to form. Drug abuse, especially cocaine, can cause the artery walls to inflame and weaken.

Brain aneurysms are a common occurrence. At autopsy, incidental aneurysms that have never caused any symptoms or issues are found in more than 1% of people. Most aneurysms remain small and are never diagnosed. Some, however, may gradually become larger and exert pressure on surrounding brain tissue and nerves and may be diagnosed because of stroke-like symptoms including:

  • headache,
  • numbness, or weakness of one side of the face,
  • a dilated pupil, or
  • change in vision.

The greater concern is a brain aneurysm that leaks or ruptures, and potentially causes stroke or death. Blood may leak into one of the membranes (meninges) that covers the brain and spinal canal and is known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage (sub= beneath + arachnoid=one of the brain coverings + hemorrhage=bleeding).

Picture of a brain aneurysm
Picture of a brain aneurysm
Return to Aneurysm (Brain)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Tassy Tank, 35-44 Female (Caregiver) Published: June 14

At the start of this month (June 2016), my lovely wife was getting ready for a bath, when all of a sudden she said she felt this weird bubbly warm feeling at the back of her head, just above her neck. She put it down to tiredness and headed off to the bathroom. Seconds later she started screaming that her head was on fire and started vomiting into the toilet. I raced into the bathroom and asked what I could do to help, she begged me to run cold water over her head and neck in the shower as she bent over. I did this, and asked her if it was helping at all, she said yes, then no, threw up some more and collapsed into the shower enclosure, breathing like someone snoring in a deep sleep. I called the emergency services and she was taken to our local hospital where they did a CT scan and confirmed a diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Later that night she was transferred by Air Ambulance to our capital city's hospital where they put a drain in the brain aneurysm and attempted to stop the bleeding, which unfortunately failed. She never regained consciousness, and the ventilator was switched off 3 days later.

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Comment from: john01, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: July 12

I experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm in late 2001. I had been working out with weights in the shed at about 9 pm, and it was cold. My partner heard like a snoring noise outside, she opened the door and I was unconscious on the ground with my head in the dog bowl. I woke up in the hospital 2 weeks later with my family by my side after undergoing an artery clipping. Three months later I had coiling for the other aneurysms. I wouldn't be here to tell my tale if my partner hadn't opened the back door that night. I am in my 50s now, take medications and live a relatively normal life, I have been fortunate.

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