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Can You Die From A Brain Aneurysm

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IN THE KNOW: ANEURYSM

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Just the other day, one of my friends, who is a tennis coach, collapsed on the tennis court out of the blue. He was taken to the hospital, where he was in a coma for a few days, then, sadly, died. The doctors say that he died of an aneurysm what is that?

An aneurysm is what is known as the enlargement or a bulge or distension of an artery, which is caused by a weakness in that part of the arterial wall.

The bulge can be in two main shapes.

One is called fusiform, which means that the aneurysm bulges on all sides of the blood vessel.

The other is called saccular, which bulges only on one side.

When an aneurysm ruptures, it can lead to death, depending on where the aneurysm is located.

The larger the bulge, the higher the risk of rupture.

But why did my friend not know that he had an aneurysm? He was a tennis coach, and was always vigorous, active and healthy all his life. He even went for medical check-ups. Why was it not detected then?

Most aneurysms do not give you any symptoms, and therein lies their danger.

Many people who have aneurysms go through their entire lives not knowing they have one.

Then one day, the aneurysm ruptures and causes severe internal bleeding, resulting in either sudden death or a coma, followed by death.

An aneurysm cannot be easily detected during routine medical check-ups.

You can ask for them to be performed on you, but then you may be exposed to unnecessary radiation.

This leads to massive internal bleeding.

Treatment For An Aneurysm

Treatment for an aneurysm depends on its location and severity, but may include:

  • Cerebral aneurysm is repaired either by coils or stent insertion, or by surgery where the aneurysm has been clipped. If the aneurysm has ruptured, then you will need to stay in hospital for up to 21 days because of potential complications, including vasospasm and hydrocephalus. Around one third of all people who experience a ruptured cerebral aneurysm die, and less than 30 per cent get back to a pre-rupture state.
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm requires drugs to control high blood pressure and surgery to repair the aneurysm if necessary. Sometimes, the nearby heart valve may also need fixing during the operation. Most people with a ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm die within minutes.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm requires drugs to control high blood pressure and surgery to repair the aneurysm if necessary. The mortality rate is more than 50 per cent if the aneurysm ruptures.

Risk Factors For Aneurysm Rupture

Some aneurysms will never rupture. However, there are also risk factors that can increase the chance of a ruptured aneurysm.

Some risk factors for rupture are associated with the characteristics of the aneurysm itself. Risk of rupture is raised in brain aneurysms that are:

  • large
  • have grown larger over time
  • located in certain arteries, specifically the posterior communicating arteries and the anterior communicating arteries

Individual factors that increase the risk of rupture include:

  • having a personal or family history of ruptured aneurysms
  • having high blood pressure

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Straining On The Toilet

For people with a brain aneurysm, constipation is more than a nuisance. Researchers found that straining to defecate can cause over a seven-fold increase in the risk of a brain bleed. “Treating constipated patients with laxatives may lower the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage,” study author Dr. Monique Vlak, neurologist at University Medical Center in the Dutch city of Utrecht, wrote in the journal.

When And Why A Brain Aneurysm Requires Surgery

Headache Brain Aneurysm Signs

A brain aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in a blood vessel that can potentially burst. Between 1.5 and 5 percent of people have or develop a brain aneurysm, according to the American Stroke Association.

Given the diagnosis, Mureddu and her husband, Chuck, went online to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation and found an experienced surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for the operation. But it would be another month until she was wheeled into the operating room.

Her surgeon explained that when she had felt pain in her head, the aneurysm had bled. He didnt expect it to bleed again in the next four weeks, and he needed the time to study the best way to proceed with the surgery. Mureddus aneurysm was considered giant at 3.1 centimeters. Any aneurysm over 2.5 centimeters one inch is termed giant, according to MGHs Neurovascular Center. Hers also had veins going through it, which meant the surgeon wouldnt be able to just clip it off. He would have to do two bypasses.

Although she’d had no symptoms until that day at the gym, her doctors suspected Mureddu had had the brain aneurysm for some time.

She had a history of 23 years of migraines, she says. I would get 12 to 18 migraines a month where I would get sick. But I lived in three states during those 23 years, and no one ordered a scan of my head.

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Do Not Take Chances With Your Health

A brain aneurysm can potentially be life-threatening, so head to our clinic for evaluation if you have any of the symptoms.

Request an appointment here: or call Brain and Spine Neuroscience Institute at for an appointment in our Lutz office.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Google: .

What Is The Outlook For Someone With A Brain Aneurysm

Not all aneurysms will rupture. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, about 6.5 million people in the United States have brain aneurysms that havent ruptured. In fact, an estimated 50 to 80 percent of all brain aneurysms never rupture in a persons lifetime.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 50 percent of individuals dying within 3 months.

Because of this, its important to be vigilant in monitoring existing aneurysms as well as taking steps to prevent them from rupturing. Its possible that your doctor may recommend surgical treatment for aneurysms that are large or at an increased risk of rupturing.

If you notice signs of rupture, its vital to seek immediate medical care to increase your chance of survival and recovery.

After a rupture, recovery can take weeks to months, and its likely that youll need physical, occupational, or speech therapy during this time. Its also possible that you may never fully recover, depending on the severity of the damage.

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What Are The Chances Of Surviving A Brain Aneurysm

People can go their entire lives not knowing they have an unruptured brain aneurysm. As long as its intact, your odds are good. But there is a risk that the brain aneurysm will rupture, which depends on many factors, including aneurysm size, location and several others. If an aneurysm does rupture, it leaks blood into the space surrounding your brain and sometimes into the brain tissue itself, causing a hemorrhagic stroke.

A ruptured brain aneurysm requires emergency medical treatment. As more time passes with a ruptured aneurysm, the likelihood of death or disability increases. About 75% of people with a ruptured brain aneurysm survive longer than 24 hours. A quarter of the survivors, though, may have life-ending complications within six months.

What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk Of Having Another Brain Aneurysm

The warning signs of a brain aneurysm

Taking care of your overall health is the best thing you can do to prevent future aneurysms. Steps you can take include:

  • Eat a healthy diet, limit caffeine and avoid stimulant drugs.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Manage conditions that contribute to high blood pressure.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about lifestyle changes you can make and medications that may help.

Summary

A sudden, severe headache with or without stroke symptoms could be a sign of a brain aneurysm. A ruptured brain aneurysm is a serious, life-threatening condition that needs immediate medical attention and emergency treatment. If you have an unruptured brain aneurysm, talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of different treatment and management options.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/26/2020.

References

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What You Need To Know

  • A brain aneurysm is a ballooning arising from a weakened area in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain.
  • If the brain aneurysm expands and the blood vessel wall becomes too thin, the aneurysm will rupture and bleed into the space around the brain. This event is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage and may cause a hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Rupturing brain aneurysm and SAH are life-threatening events. If you suspect you are having a rupturing brain aneurysm, call 911.

What Are The Symptoms

Unruptured aneurysm Most cerebral aneurysms do not show symptoms until they either become very large or rupture. Small unchanging aneurysms generally will not produce symptoms.

A larger aneurysm that is steadily growing may press on tissues and nerves causing:

  • pain above and behind the eye
  • numbness
  • paralysis on one side of the face
  • a dilated pupil in the eye
  • vision changes or double vision.

Ruptured aneurysmWhen an aneurysm ruptures , one always experiences a sudden and extremely severe headache and may also develop:

  • double vision

TypeThere are three types of cerebral aneurysms:

  • Saccular aneurysm. A saccular aneurysm is a rounded sac containing blood, that is attached to a main artery or one of its branches. Also known as a berry aneurysm , this is the most common form of cerebral aneurysm. It is typically found on arteries at the base of the brain. Saccular aneurysms occur most often in adults.
  • Fusiform aneurysm. A fusiform aneurysm balloons or bulges out on all sides of the artery.
  • Mycotic aneurysm. A mycotic aneurysm occurs as the result of an infection that can sometimes affect the arteries in the brain. The infection weakens the artery wall, causing a bulging aneurysm to form.

SizeAneurysms are also classified by size: small, large, and giant.

  • Small aneurysms are less than 11 millimeters in diameter .
  • Large aneurysms are 11 to 25 millimeters .
  • Giant aneurysms are greater than 25 millimeters in diameter .

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Successfully Recovering From An Aneurysm

Mureddus recovery from her surgery in April 2013, two months after the rupture, was long and arduous. She had to relearn to speak and to walk. Determined, she took a good 10 months until she was nearly back to her old self.

Today, she continues to manage the condition by eating a healthy diet and working out at the gym at least three days a week. She also makes sure that her brain is as active as it always was, says Mureddu, who works in finance. In her free time she plays solitaire, Scrabble, and does Sudoku to help her mind stay sharp, and she checks in with a therapist and health coach regularly.

Is There Any Way To Prevent An Aneurysm

Is It Painful To Die From A Brain Aneurysm?

Eating a nutrient-rich diet containing plenty of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables may help prevent an aneurysm from forming. Meat and poultry low in saturated fat and cholesterol are also good protein options. Low fat dairy products are also beneficial.

Incorporating regular exercise into your routine, especially cardio, can encourage healthy blood circulation and blood flow through the heart, arteries, and other blood vessels.

If you smoke tobacco products, consider quitting. Eliminating tobacco can decrease your risk of an aneurysm. Quitting can be challenging, but a healthcare professional can help you build a cessation plan that works for you and connect you with other supportive resources.

Scheduling annual checkups is another way to be proactive about helping prevent an aneurysm. Its also a way to help promote overall health and well-being.

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Dont Believe The Myths

Dr. Ludwig cautions his patients not to believe two common myths about aneurysms.

One is that people have brain aneurysms from birth. Thats not generally the case. Aneurysms develop over a lifetime, he says. Another is that an aneurysm can disappear or heal itself. This is very rare and only happens in aneurysms that are considered benign because the flow of blood is so slow it eventually forms a clot and seals off the bulge.

To learn more about caring for aneurysms, talk to your doctor or health care provider or search for a provider.

Be Aware Of These Brain Aneurysm Symptoms

You can indeed have a brain aneurysm and not know it, says , a neurosurgeon with the Cerebrovascular Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. If the aneurysm has not ruptured, it typically causes no symptoms, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

See a doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms, Dr. Bain says, which may mean an aneurysm is pressing on your brain or nerves:

  • Headache in one spot
  • Pain above or behind your eye
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weakness and numbness
  • Slurred speech

If the aneurysm ruptures and blood spills into the space around your brain, you could have what you’d consider the worst headache of your life.

Some patients describe it as being hit in the back of a head by a sledgehammer, Bain says. Other symptoms include those that Mureddu experienced: nausea, vomiting, and sudden blurred or double vision, as well as a stiff neck, dizziness, sensitivity to light, and drooping eyelids. You also could have a stroke, notes the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

If the aneurysm doesn’t rupture, your doctor may recommend treatment or careful monitoring. Once it ruptures, it should be treated with either open surgery or endovascular surgery, which is done within the blood vessels.

Weve taken a page out of the heart doctors book, Bain says. In some cases, a surgeon can thread a catheter through the femoral artery to the brain and place coils to seal off the aneurysm.

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How Deadly Are Brain Aneurysms

Although large unruptured brain aneurysms can press on the brain and cause symptoms, these are not usually serious of life threatening. Rupture of a brain aneurysm can lead to a stroke. This is known as a hemorrhagic stroke where blood pouring out of the ruptured aneurysm affects the oxygen supply to part of the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes are the less common type of stroke but are still potentially fatal.

Read more on hemorrhagic stroke.

A ruptured brain aneurysm causes bleeding within the cranial cavity. Most of the time this occurs between the brain and the meninges . This is known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage and when it occurs due to a ruptured aneurysm, it results in death in about 65% of cases. According to studies, a ruptured aneurysm that results in a subarachnoid hemorrhage leads to death in:

  • 10% of cases even before receiving medical attention.
  • 25% of cases within 24 hours.
  • 40% of cases within 3 months.

It is important to note that hemorrhagic stroke accounts for less than 20% of all strokes. The majority of strokes are ischemic in nature where a blood clot obstructs a narrowed artery thereby interrupting blood supply to certain areas of the brain. A stroke is a result of death of a portion of this brain tissue.

Discovering You Have An Aneurysm

North Royalton woman shares story after surviving brain aneurysm

If you complain of double vision, headaches, pain behind your eyes, or partial paralysis of your face, your doctor likely will test for a brain aneurysm. Sometimes aneurysms are discovered when doctors are running tests for another condition.

When aneurysms are small and not pushing on the brain or nerves, you may not have any symptoms, says Bryan Ludwig, MD, with the Clinical Neuroscience Institute. We find the aneurysm when were examining the patient for other reasons, so the news is a complete surprise, he says.

If you have multiple risk factors that make you more likely to have a brain aneurysm, your doctor may want to screen for one. Family history, especially if a first-degree relative had a ruptured aneurysm, would be a reason to check, Dr. Ludwig explains. Other risk factors are high blood pressure, smoking, drug abuse, and advancing age.

Ruptured aneurysms near the brain can cause the worst headache in your life, says Dr. Ludwig. But with an unruptured aneurysm, you may not have a headache at all. Its a big distinction.

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How A Brain Aneurysm Is Diagnosed

Patients who experience the symptoms of an aneurysm will be given several tests to determine if there has been bleeding into the brain and its surrounding tissues or if they have had a different type of stroke.

If there is bleeding, appropriate treatments will be administered. The tests used to diagnose aneurysms include:

  • Cerebrospinal fluid test
  • Cerebral angiogram

My Mom Died Of A Brain Aneurysm And I Want People To Know The Symptoms

The day started as any normal day did for me as a 7th grader. It was January 12, 1988. As I rushed around getting ready for school, my mom helped me study for my vocabulary test as we bumped into each other as we tried to share the bathroom sink she was impressed that I knew all of the words on our first run-through, so we eliminated additional studying from that mornings task list.

She liked my outfit that day and told me so I was wearing light jeans, white keds, and a royal blue Henley. She gave me the normal outpouring of hugs and affection before I took off for the bus stop.There was never a time when this ritual was skipped due to a busy morning. There was always time for hugs.

My day at school was as normal as any day for a middle schooler, meaning it was predictably abnormal. What I didnt know was that sometime around lunch time, my mom was rushed to the hospital. She suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, and slipped into a coma. She had surgery, but there wasnt much they could do. I saw her that night after surgery and it was obvious that our life, my life, was permanently changed in a devastating way.

She turned 42 two days later, and about a week and a half after that, she died. 42 years old is way too young. At 12, I was too young to lose my mom too.

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