September 21, 2022

Knowing the signs of an aneurysm key to preventing rupture

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Aneurysms impact about 3 percent of the United States population

Madison, Wis. – Technology is making it easier to screen for brain aneurysms, but preventing serious complications from them comes down to knowing the symptoms.

The most severe consequence of an aneurysm, a bulging or ballooning blood vessel in the brain, is that it would rupture, but before that occurs a person might notice symptoms around their eyes, according to Dr. Luke Bradbury, neurologist, UW Health, and associate professor of neurology, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

These symptoms include blurred or double vision, a droopy eyelid, a dilated pupil, pain above or behind one eye, weakness or numbness, he said.

“If you experience these symptoms, contact your primary care provider quickly, and you can be screened using a brain scan,” Bradbury said. “We want to catch these as soon as possible to avoid a rupture, which can be deadly.”

But, if a rupture does occur, time is of the essence, he said.

Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm are similar to the aneurysm before it ruptures, but can include sudden and severe headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, stiff neck and seizure. If you have one or a collection of these symptoms suddenly, call 911 immediately, Bradbury said.

“I can’t stress enough how important acting quickly is,” he said. “If you can’t call for help yourself, alert someone nearby as fast as you can.”

Aneurysms impact about 3 percent of the United States population, and during September, which is National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month, Bradbury is hoping public attention to this condition will help save lives.

“We have to know what to look for and how to take care of one another when these symptoms show up, so we can get a screening done and treatment started in time,” he said.