A Brain Aneurysm is a condition of the blood vessels in the brain, this occurs due to the weakness of the walls of the blood vessel getting pushed outside after being worn out from the constant pressure produced by the blood flow, resulting in the formation of a bulge or balloon type of structure protruding out of the brain. The bulges of the blood vessel can be categorized into two types based on the shape:
(a.) Fusiform Aneurysm: When the bulge in the blood vessel is in the formation of a widened spot, it is referred to as a Fusiform Aneurysm.
(b.) Saccular Aneurysm: This is the type of aneurysm that is the most prominent in the general population. They are identified by their hanging berry-like bulged structure connected to the blood vessel by a narrow “neck”.
What are the symptoms of a Brain Aneurysm?
Brain aneurysms are divided into three categories depending on their state, and all have them have their own specific set of symptoms. Let’s look at every one of them in detail.
(1.) Unruptured Aneurysm: This is the default state of existence of brain aneurysm, and the good news is in most cases they don’t progress further. An unruptured aneurysm generally has no serious symptoms and is hence mostly detected along with the test for other brain conditions. If the unruptured aneurysm grows to a considerable size, it starts to apply pressure on the nearby tissues and nerves hence giving the following symptom:
(a.) Visual Distortion, accompanied by pain around the area of the eye, especially the part behind the eye.
(b.) Unnatural dilation of the pupil.
(c.) Loss of sensation or numbness in one side of the face.
(2.) Partially Ruptured/Leaking Aneurysm: The aneurysm starts to leak after being exposed to the constant pressure of the blood. The condition starts to become serious from this point on as the rupture starts to become more severe as time passes. The key symptom of a Leaking Aneurysm is a sudden and extreme headache that is severely painful.
(3.) Ruptured Aneurysm: This is the final stage of a brain aneurysm, this is the most critical stage and requires imitate medical attention or it could become life-threatening. The key symptom of a ruptured aneurysm are:
(a.) Visual distortion accompanied by sensitivity to light.
(b.) Stiffness in the region around the neck and extreme nausea.
(c.) Seizures that can result in loss of consciousness.
(d.) Drooping eyelids and difficulty in performing daily activities.
This is a medical emergency and if someone around you complains of having “The worst headache” of their life, or gets a seizure along with loss of consciousness. Call an ambulance immediately. If you are around Hyderabad, you can call our emergency number 87903-87903 for a multispeciality ambulance at your service.
What are the causes and risk factors associated with Brain Aneurysms?
The primary cause of brain aneurysms is unknown, but what medical experts understand are the possible factors that could put one at a greater risk for developing this condition. The most common risk factors are as follows:
(a.) Old Age – The chances of one developing brain aneurysms are generally higher for people above the age of 40.
(b.) Gender: For the case of a brain aneurysm, women tend to be at a greater risk than men.
(c.) Hypertension: Unattended high blood pressure puts extra stress on the blood vessels and hence increases the chances of one getting a brain aneurysm.
(d.) Lifestyle factors: Smoking, excessive intake of alcohol, or overdose of stimulants like cocaine is seen to put one at a higher risk pedestal for a brain aneurysm.
(e.) Genetic Factors: certain genetic disorders, inherited tissue disorders that weaken the blood vessels, and a family history of brain aneurysm also increase the risk of a brain aneurysm.
What are the complications associated with Brain Aneurysm?
The first complication that occurs is during the leaking or rupturing of a brain aneurysm which can result in a hemorrhagic stroke, more specifically the area of the brain most prone to brain aneurysm is the space between the brain and the tissue surrounding it, when the aneurysm ruptures from this area, the stroke is referred to as subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Besides causing a stroke, the bleeding can also inflict damage to the surrounding cells directly, the release of blood in the skull also increases the pressure inside it, and if the pressure becomes too much it can also cause death. The other complications that can develop after the rupturing of the brain aneurysm are:
(a.) The drop of sodium level in blood: Also referred to as hyponatremia, subarachnoid hemorrhage occurring as a result of ruptured brain aneurysm disrupts sodium level of the blood hence puts the hypothalamus at risk, hyponatremia also causes swelling of the brain cells that finally causes permanent damage to them.
(b.) Vasospasm: The blood vessels in the brain are narrowed after the bleeding caused by the rupturing of the brain aneurysm, this can cause an ischemic stroke.
(c.) Hydrocephalus: The bleeding that occurs in the region between the tissues and brain caused by the rupture of brain aneurysm causes hindrance in the free flow of the Cerebro Spinal Fluid which intern increases the pressure inside the brain resulting in damage to tissues of the brain.
What are the treatments for Brain Aneurysms?
The mode of treatment of a brain aneurysm depends on the stage it is currently in i.e Ruptured or Unruptured, Let’s look at both of them individually.
(1.) Ruptured Brain Aneurysm:
This is the critical stage of a brain aneurysm and requires immediate surgery, the goal of the surgical procedure is to prevent the blood flow into the aneurysm. This may be done through the three most prominent procedures, the one to be followed is determined by the medical professional after going through all the necessary tests.
(a.) Surgical Clipping: This process involves the removal of a part of the skull to locate the aneurysm and cutting off the blood flow to the aneurysm by placing a metal clip at the opening of the aneurysm.
(b.) Endovascular Coiling: This process involves the use of a catheter, which is inserted from the groin area and directed towards the aneurysm, tiny coils of platinum are then sent through the tube which takes the shape of the aneurysm hence stopping the bleeding, this process comes with the risk of bleeding to happen again.
(c.) Flow Diverter Surgery: This process is preferred for larger aneurysms when clipping and coiling are not a good choice. A stent is inserted inside the artery that diverts the blood away from the aneurysm. This process is succeeded by medicines, given to put the complications at bay.
(2.) Unruptured Brain Aneurysm:
Small brain aneurysms generally don’t require any special surgery and are usually managed by changes in lifestyle which can significantly lower the chances of the aneurysm rupturing. The common lifestyle changes prescribed are:
(a.) Refrain from consumption of stimulant drugs.
(b.) Maintaining Blood pressure at healthy levels.
(c.) Avoid putting excess pressure on the body by lifting heavy objects.
(d.) Quitting smoking and limiting the intake of caffeine.
The above lifestyle changes can help one enjoy a normal life without having to worry about a brain aneurysm.