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: theresalynne, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 06

I had a headache for several days and finally went to the emergency room. They told me I had a sinus infection and sent me home. The next couple days were horrible as my headache wouldn't go away. Then my boyfriend at the time found me on the floor having a seizure and I couldn't move my left side. He rushed me to the doctor, and at this point I couldn't walk. The same doctor that told me I had a sinus infection told me I had blood on the brain after taking blood and another CT scan. They life-flighted me, where I had emergency surgery for brain aneurysm. It has been almost five years, and I have already been through an operation fixing the plate and screw in my head, now on May 17 I am going again to fix the headaches I've been having for the last five years.

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Comment from: 45-54 Female (Caregiver) Published: May 17

My mom who had just turned 53 had a fatal brain aneurysm in January 2016. We have no idea if she felt anything beforehand, she just collapsed and was blue within about a minute.

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