Brain Aneurysm - What You Need To Know
A brain aneurysm is a serious and often fatal condition that affects the blood flow to the brain. Blood supplies the brain's nutrition by bringing it oxygen and sugar. A brain aneurysm occurs when there's a widening or ballooning in some area of a blood vessel. This condition is also known as a cerebral or intracranial aneurysm.
Aneurysms And The "Circle Of Willis"
At the base of the brain is an area called the Circle of Willis. This is where all of the arteries bringing blood converge. They form a circle and from there arteries branch out and go directly into the brain. Where these arteries branch off of the circle is a common place for a brain aneurysm to occur because the blood vessels are weak here.
Ruptured And Unruptured Cerebral Aneurysms
There are two types of aneurysms - ruptured and unruptured. An unruptured brain aneurysm is where the blood vessel has widened but not broken. A ruptured brain aneurysm is where it has widened and broken open. When this happens, blood flows into the tissue of the brain. This is called a hemorrhagic stroke and if not treated quickly, it is fatal. If a brain aneurysm ruptures, you should go to the hospital immediately for treatment. 10% of those with ruptured aneurysms die before they can receive medical help. This is a true medical emergency.
Symptoms Of A Brain Aneurysm
About 1 in 15 people get a brain aneurysm at some time in their lives. These are usually the unruptured type. If you have this type of brain aneurysm, you may have trouble thinking clearly. It also often causes disturbances in behavior, perception, sensation, coordination and energy levels, depending on where it's located in the brain. A ruptured brain aneurysm feels like the worst headache you've ever had in your life. You may also experience nausea, neck pain, blurred or double vision, pain behind the eyes and loss of sensation in some part of the body.
Factors That Put You At Risk For A Brain Aneurysm
Older people and people with high blood pressure are the most at risk. Women are more likely than men to develop a brain aneurysm. Smoking, heavy drinking and drug use (especially cocaine) also increase your risk. There are also genetic factors involved.
Treating A Brain Aneurysm
A brain aneurysm isn't always fatal. If you have a ruptured blood vessel, treatment will focus on stopping and containing the bleeding. An unruptured brain aneurysm can be treated with surgery where they clip it shut to prevent blood from entering it. It's estimated that 50% of those who survive a brain aneurysm but don't seek treatment die within the next month.
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