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 (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: no name, 45-54 Male (Caregiver) Published: May 09

My husband suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm on Jan 13, 2013. I came home from work and found him on the living home floor. I asked him what was wrong and he told me he had the worst headache he had ever had. I gave him ibuprofen and was told he had trouble swallowing. He also told me he had pain on the back of his neck. I called our doctor and he told me to take him to the emergency department (ED). They found a ruptured aneurysm and it could not be coiled. He had surgery and had to have it clipped. During surgery another aneurysm burst which had to be clipped. I got him to the ED early enough that he was able to fully recover except for short term memory loss. He does have mood swings but he was able to go back to work. I was wondering if the aneurysm could cause some kind of dementia later in his life.

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Comment from: elizabeth, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 04

I have been having severe eye pain on and off for the past two and a half years. I have consulted the ophthalmologist who kept telling me it is due to dryness in the eye. A month ago when I lost my glasses I went to the optician who tested my eyes and noticed I had almost lost vision in my left eye. My nightmare of brain aneurysm started and ended with coiling and a flow diverter stent put in!

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