When you have a brain aneurysm, you have a blood-filled bulge in a vessel within your brain. Without treatment, these damaged vessel walls can continue to weaken, which can lead the aneurysm to grow larger or burst. This is very dangerous, because if it bursts, this leads to bleeding in the brain, a condition known as hemorrhagic stroke.
While this may sound frightening, most aneurysms don’t rupture. In fact, 50-80% of brain aneurysms remain intact for a person’s lifetime. However, when they do rupture, they require urgent medical attention. Because of this, it’s important to learn to spot a potential problem as quickly as possible.
At Cerebrum MD in Tyson’s Corner, Vienna, Virginia, Joseph Watson, MD, provides innovative neurological solutions for brain conditions, including aneurysms. Here’s what you need to know about this complex problem and when to schedule an appointment with Dr.Watson.
As we mentioned earlier, a brain aneurysm is a weakened blood vessel in your brain. Most of these bulges resemble a berry or balloon, but some weakened vessels can bulge all the way around.
Approximately 6 million Americans — or 1 in 50 people — have this problem, but they haven’t ruptured, and most of them won’t. These aneurysms are often small and don’t cause symptoms. If detected, it’s usually because a person undergoes screenings for another medical condition.
In very rare cases, you can have an unruptured aneurysm that becomes so large that it presses on nerves in the brain. When this occurs, you might develop a variety of symptoms, such as the following:
Unlike ruptured aneurysms, they rarely cause chronic headaches at this stage. If you do develop any of these symptoms, you should get prompt medical attention.
An aneurysm can either burst or leak. However, if it starts leaking, a more severe rupture typically follows.
As blood leaks into your brain, it can damage or kill other cells and increase pressure within your skull. As the pressure rises, it can also interfere with the blood and oxygen supply to your brain and lead to a loss of consciousness or even death.
One of the most obvious signs of a ruptured aneurysm is intense head pain, typically described as the worst headache of your life. Additional symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include:
Early detection is essential for treating ruptured aneurysms. You should consider these symptoms a medical emergency and immediately seek medical attention, especially if you also have a sudden and extremely severe headache.
Since unruptured aneurysms rarely show signs, the best thing to do is understand if you're at risk for having one. If you have a risk, you can talk to an expert about advanced testing.
Factors that increase your chances of developing cerebral aneurysms include:
Being alert to the signs of a problem and knowing your personal risks can help ensure the best possible outcomes.
To learn more about aneurysms or find treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Cerebrum MD today.