Since smoking and high blood pressure are risk factors, quitting smoking and managing blood pressure can lower the risk of a brain aneurysm.

Research also indicates that a lack of antioxidants in the diet can raise the risk of the condition. For this reason, eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is another way to help prevent it.

A brain aneurysm refers to an area in the wall of an artery in the brain that becomes weak, thin, and bulging. When this happens, the aneurysm may rupture, which can have serious consequences, such as a stroke.

Around 6.7 million people in the United States currently have an unruptured brain aneurysm. Ruptured aneurysms account for 3–5% of all new strokes.

This article discusses how to prevent a brain aneurysm and explains how blood pressure, diet, and smoking may play a role. It also examines whether weight can increase the risk and describes the causes, treatment, and outlook of a brain aneurysm.

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To prevent a brain aneurysm, a person can take steps to address the risk factors. While it is impossible to modify some of them, such as genetics and age, it is possible to change others.

A 2019 study examined the factors that can cause or increase the risk of the formation or rupture of a brain aneurysm. It found the following play a role:

Other modifiable risk factors include smoking and drug misuse.

Additionally, health conditions, such as diabetes and high cholesterol, contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries. This condition can raise the risk of an aneurysm, so managing these risk factors can also help.

With the above in mind, the following approaches can help reduce the risk of an aneurysm:

  • managing high blood pressure
  • reducing inflammation
  • decreasing alcohol consumption
  • quitting smoking, if applicable
  • avoiding the use of recreational drugs
  • managing diabetes
  • managing high cholesterol

Learn more about brain aneurysms.

Research from 2021 notes that high blood pressure is a major risk factor for the formation, enlargement, and rupture of brain aneurysms.

The stress from inflammation and the force of the blood flow that high blood pressure causes can lead to damage in the arterial wall and the widening of an artery, which can result in an aneurysm.

For this reason, doctors consider strict blood pressure control very important in managing the condition. The authors conclude that this may improve the outlook.

Additionally, medications and appropriate lifestyle practices can help control blood pressure.

Researchers have found that people at high risk of brain aneurysm formation and rupture should get adequate amounts of antioxidant vitamins in their diets. These include:

  • vitamin C
  • B vitamins
  • vitamin E
  • carotenoids
  • flavonoids
  • omega-3 fatty acids

Foods that are plentiful in these nutrients include:

  • whole grains
  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • nuts
  • beans
  • fish

Two diets that meet the above nutritional requirements and reduce inflammation include the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which refers to Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

A 2021 study reports an inverse relationship exists between body mass index (BMI) and brain aneurysms. This is an “obesity paradox,” meaning that being overweight may offer some protection against aneurysm development and rupture. The paradox is puzzling, as research has firmly established obesity as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which are conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels.

However, research from 2021 finds that the role of BMI in brain aneurysms is likely small. Because obesity has associations with various serious health conditions, a person should always try to maintain a moderate weight.

A 2017 study finds that current smoking, the length of time someone has smoked, and the amount of smoking are the most important risk factors for a brain aneurysm.

Additionally, former smokers have a significantly higher risk than those who have never smoked. This suggests that in terms of brain aneurysm risks, smoking has some effects that do not resolve once a person quits.

Learn more about what happens after a person quits smoking.

Researchers believe that various factors may lead to the formation of a brain aneurysm. These may involve inflammation and stress on the brain arteries due to turbulent blood flow. The causes of this include the above modifiable risk factors as well as unmodifiable risk factors, which include:

  • age
  • genetics
  • tumors
  • trauma
  • infections that can cause moving blood clots, such as endocarditis, which refers to inflammation of the inner heart lining

Treatment depends on several factors, such as the size of the aneurysm and whether a rupture has occurred. Small unruptured brain aneurysms may not require treatment.

Surgery and endovascular coiling are two types of treatment for ruptured or larger unruptured aneurysms. Surgery involves placing a tiny clip on the neck of an aneurysm, preventing blood flow and removing the risk of bleeding.

Endovascular coiling is less invasive than surgery. It involves inserting a flexible tube called a catheter in an artery in the leg and passing it to the artery in the brain that has the aneurysm. A surgeon will then insert a smaller microcatheter containing a platinum coil inside the initial catheter. An electric current moves the coil into the opening of the aneurysm, which leads to the destruction of the aneurysm.

Once an aneurysm erupts, nearly 25% of people with the condition die within 24 hours, and 50% die within 3 months.

A person interested in learning how to prevent a brain aneurysm can take various steps to reduce their risk factors. Such measures include quitting smoking, managing high blood pressure, and following a nutritious, antioxidant-rich diet.

Although obesity may not be a risk factor, it has links to other serious health problems, so doctors always recommend weight management.

Causes of the physiological effects that can lead to an aneurysm may include various factors, such as tumors, trauma, or lifestyle practices.

A small aneurysm may not require treatment, but a larger or ruptured aneurysm needs surgery or endovascular coiling.

The outlook for an aneurysm is serious, so a person needs to follow preventive measures to help reduce the risk.