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A brain aneurysm is a weak or thin spot on a blood vessel in the brain that balloons out and fills with blood. The bulging aneurysm can put pressure on a nerve or surrounding brain tissue.
When a brain aneurysm leaks or ruptures it can cause bleeding into the brain which can lead to a stroke or death.
A ruptured aneurysm quickly becomes life-threatening and requires prompt medical treatment. If you think you may be experiencing an aneurysm, call 911 immediately.
Types of aneurysms
A brain aneurysm that does not rupture may produce no symptoms. A larger unruptured aneurysm may press on brain tissues and nerves. It could cause:
Pain above and behind one eye
A dilated pupil
Change in vision or double vision
Numbness of one side of the face
A sudden, severe headache is the key symptom of a ruptured aneurysm. This headache is often described as the “worst headache” ever experienced. Other symptoms could include:
Sudden, extremely severe headache
Nausea and vomiting
Blurred or double vision
Sensitivity to light
A drooping eyelid
Loss of consciousness
Who is at risk
Brain aneurysms can occur in anyone and at any age. They are more common in adults than children and more common in women than in men. The following can also increase the risk:
High blood pressure
Heavy alcohol consumption
Drug abuse, particularly the use of cocaine
Family history of brain aneurysms
Inherited connective tissue disorder
Polycystic kidney disease
Neurofibromatosis type 1
If your doctor thinks you may be experiencing an aneurysm, they may request an angiogram. An angiogram is used to look at the blood vessels in your brain and will show any blockage.
The treatment chosen will depend on which blood vessel the aneurysm is growing from and the size and shape. Other key factors will also be your family history and your own health history. The goal is to close off the aneurysm so it does not continue to bleed or rebleed.
The two main treatments for brain aneurysms are:
Where to find us
University HospitalNeuroendovascular Surgery Clinic
- 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
- (608) 263-7502
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