Unruptured aneurysms affect about 3.2% of people worldwide. Ruptured aneurysms are less common, occurring in approximately 10 per 100,000 cases.
The above statistics come from the
The average age at which they happen is 50 years. While the female-to-male ratio at this age is 1:1, after age 50, the ratio approaches 2:1.
A brain aneurysm, or a cerebral aneurysm, is a thin place in an artery in the brain that bulges outward. It may burst or rupture, which spills blood into the surrounding tissues. When this happens, it can cause a stroke, brain injury, and death.
This article explains more about whether brain aneurysms are common, alongside detailing the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, outlook, and prevention.
Unruptured aneurysms are more common than ruptured aneurysms. In the United States, about 6.7 million individuals have the unruptured type, and rupture happens in an estimated 30,000 annually. Hispanic and African American people have twice the risk.
Worldwide, the condition causes 500,000 deaths annually — half of which are people younger than 50 years.
Inherited risk factors
- arteriovenous malformations, which are tangles of veins and arteries in the brain that hinder blood flow
- genetic connective tissue disorders that weaken the walls of arteries
- history of an aneurysm in a closely related family member
- polycystic kidney disease, a condition where many cysts develop in the kidneys
Noninherited risk factors
Noninherited risk factors that increase over time include:
- cigarette smoking
- being over 40 years
- untreated high blood pressure
- drug misuse, particularly involving amphetamines or cocaine, which can raise blood pressure to very high levels
Less common risk factors include:
Symptoms from a large aneurysm
A large growing aneurysm may produce symptoms that stem from pressure on nearby nerves and tissues, such as:
- pain behind and above the eye
- a dilated pupil
- paralysis on one side of the face
- double vision or other vision changes
Symptoms from a ruptured aneurysm
If an aneurysm ruptures, a person can experience a sudden, severe headache. Other symptoms may include:
- stiff neck
- double vision
- nausea or vomiting
- sensitivity to light
- loss of consciousness
- cardiac arrest, meaning the heart stops beating
Sometimes instead of rupturing, an aneurysm may leak a small quantity of blood. When this happens, it may cause a warning headache, which signals that a rupture may occur in the coming days or weeks.
- CT scan: Frequently the first test a doctor orders, this imaging uses X-rays to produce two-dimensional pictures of the brain and skull. In addition to a CT scan, a doctor may use CT angiography (CTA), which involves injecting a dye before the scan. A CTA can show an aneurysm’s shape, location, and size.
- MRI: An MRI uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to produce two or three-dimensional pictures of the brain. A form of this imaging called magnetic resonance angiography can also reveal an aneurysm’s shape, location, and size.
- Cerebral angiography: This finds blockages in an artery in the neck or brain and identifies weak spots in an artery. It can pinpoint the cause of bleeding in the brain and provide a detailed picture of an aneurysm.
- Cerebrospinal fluid analysis: This involves withdrawing a small amount of fluid, usually from the spine in the lower back region. It measures chemicals in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, which can help detect bleeding in the brain.
The treatment depends on various factors, such as the size of the aneurysm.
Treatment of small aneurysms
Some very small brain aneurysms that do not link to rupture risk factors may not require treatment. Instead, doctors may monitor them with imaging.
Treatment for unruptured brain aneurysms may cause serious complications that a doctor weighs against the potential risk of rupture. However, co-occurring conditions that are risk factors necessitate aggressive treatment.
Treatment of problematic aneurysms
When an aneurysm is large or ruptures, treatment options may
- Surgery: Several surgeries can treat the condition but involve risks, such as damage to other blood vessels and stroke. One option is microvascular clipping, an open brain surgery that cuts off blood supply to the aneurysm. Depending on the characteristics of the aneurysm, this can be highly effective.
- Platinum coil embolization: This is less invasive than microvascular clipping surgery. It entails inserting a hollow plastic tube in an artery and threading it to the aneurysm, where coils of platinum wire release and reduce the blood flow.
- Flow diversion devices: This is a treatment option for large or complex aneurysms. The procedure involves the placement of small flexible mesh tubes called stents in an artery, which decreases blood flow to the aneurysm.
Treatment options for ruptured aneurysms include:
- a shunt to divert cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to elsewhere in the body
- calcium channel blockers, such as nimodipine (Nymalize), to lower the risk of stroke
- antiseizure drugs, such as phenytoin (Dilantin), to prevent seizures from a rupture
- rehabilitation therapy, which consists of physical, occupational, and speech therapy to regain lost function
After a rupture of a cerebral aneurysm, the illness and death rate is very high. Evidence indicates that within the first 24 hours, nearly
- presence of high blood pressure and other co-occurring conditions
- the extent of the bleeding from the rupture
- degree of vasospasms, which are contractions of arteries in the brain that limit blood flow
- neurological status
According to a
This means that the below foods and beverages should be key components of the diet:
Other means of prevention include:
In the U.S., about 6.7 million people have an unruptured brain aneurysm, and about 30,000 per year have the ruptured type.
Various factors such as genetics, smoking, and untreated high blood pressure can increase a person’s risk of the condition.
A very severe headache is a sign of a ruptured aneurysm. As this condition has a high death rate, someone experiencing such a headache should go to an emergency room immediately. Further symptoms of a large aneurysm may include numbness or paralysis on one side of the face.
A healthy, balanced diet rich in antioxidants, such as the Mediterranean diet, may help prevent the condition.