Several case studies suggest COVID-19 might be a risk factor for brain aneurysms and ruptures. Bodily responses to SARS-CoV-2, such as inflammation, could explain why. However, there is currently no direct evidence for this link.

Since 2019, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has caused over 593 million infections. These infections correspond to 6 million deaths and many more episodes of ill health.

Indeed, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists have documented an array of complications of this disease.

This article looks at the connection between SARS-CoV-2 infections and brain aneurysms. After discussing a possible link between these conditions, it provides more general information about COVID-19 and brain health. It also discusses the causes and signs of brain aneurysms.

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All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on COVID-19.

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A 2021 study makes clear that there is currently no solid evidence that COVID-19 can cause the formation of brain aneurysms.

The possible link between COVID-19 and brain aneurysms is a matter for scientific study.

Scientists define brain aneurysms as thin or weak spots on a brain artery. The weak spot balloons, or bulges out, filling with blood. It has the potential to leak into the brain, and even to rupture.

Learn the link between COVID-19 and headaches.

Some scientists believe that COVID-19 is a risk factor for brain aneurysms. As the 2021 study mentioned above explains, this is partly because doctors have recorded several cases of people with severe COVID-19 developing a brain aneurysm.

Researchers also note similar case studies in which people with COVID-19 experienced ruptured brain aneurysms. A 2021 paper records other such cases. Therefore, some scientists think COVID-19 could be a risk factor for ruptured brain aneurysms, too.

In theory, certain bodily responses to infection could explain these potential links between COVID-19 and brain aneurysms.

In people with severe COVID-19, inflammation could cause damage to the blood vessels in the brain. Hypercytokinemia may do the same.

Hypercytokinemia is an extreme immune response. During this response, the body releases too many cytokines into the bloodstream. Cytokines are special proteins, and although they can be extremely useful, their overabundance is harmful.

People hospitalized with severe COVID-19 often endured this overabundance in what researchers called a “cytokine storm.”

COVID-19 can cause inflammation and hypercytokinemia. However, there is no strong evidence that COVID-19 causes or increases the risk of brain aneurysms or making them rupture.

Learn how common brain aneurysms may be.

Scientists continue to investigate a possible link between COVID-19 and brain aneurysms.

Today, several health organizations have noted evidence of an increased association between COVID-19 and the nervous system. For instance, the National Institutes of Health lists the following as complications of COVID-19:

  • stroke
  • seizures
  • delirium
  • pain syndromes

The American Heart Association adds to this list. It considers cognitive and attention deficits complications of COVID-19 as well as mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

There is plenty of evidence that brain aneurysms can develop for many reasons other than COVID-19. Some causes of brain aneurysms include:

Older adults have an increased risk of brain aneurysm. There is also evidence that some genetic factors could predispose people to this condition.

The takeaway here is that the diagnostic process for severe COVID-19 hospitalization may have unveiled other serious health concerns that may have never been discovered except for the COVID-19 diagnosis.

According to the National Institutes of Health, an unruptured cerebral aneurysm typically does not cause symptoms. However, if this aneurysm grows large enough, it may put pressure on tissues or nerves. This could result in:

  • pain
  • numbness
  • weakness
  • vision changes
  • dilated pupil

A ruptured aneurysm always causes a sudden, very severe headache. It may also lead to:

  • double vision
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stiff neck
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness
  • cardiac arrest

In some cases, an aneurysm may leak blood into the brain, causing a sentinel headache.

Learn more about headaches from brain aneurysms.

The National Institutes of Health advises that anyone with symptoms of a brain aneurysm seek immediate medical attention. This is especially true if someone experiences a sudden and severe headache.

Ruptured brain aneurysms are medical emergencies. They require urgent and specialized care.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include coughing, fever, and a loss of taste or smell. Anyone with these symptoms should contact a doctor and follow the COVID-19 guidelines in their local area.

Scientists define brain aneurysms as weak spots on brain arteries, which can balloon, or bulge out, potentially causing leakage or rupture. Some scientists believe COVID-19 may be a risk factor for brain aneurysms.

COVID-19 can cause inflammation and hypercytokinemia, which could possibly weaken brain arteries. Moreover, several cases of people with severe COVID-19 developing a brain aneurysm have been recorded.

COVID-19 can affect the brain, leading to complications such as stroke, seizures, and delirium. COVID-19 can also cause mental health conditions.

However, there is currently no solid evidence of COVID-19 causing brain aneurysms.