Getting The Shock Of A Lifetime
A neurologist at the hospital where I worked assured me that migraines are common, but he took scans of my head to be sure. The next day he called and asked to see me in person to go over the results. I learned in his office that I had an aneurysm, a balloon-like bulge in a blood vessel that can potentially burst. He advised me not to worry because most people go a whole lifetime with an aneurysm that never ruptures but that I should meet with neurosurgeon just in case.
Shortly after my first meeting with a neurosurgeon, I collapsed on my front steps. I remember feeling strange and experiencing sudden fatigue before my fall. I managed to pick myself up, but the next day, I woke up with a headache and neck pain so bad that it brought me to tears. It never occurred to me that my aneurysm may have burst at that moment. Thinking it was just another migraine, I decided to wait for my next appointment with another neurosurgeon.
What Is A Cerebral Aneurysm
A cerebral aneurysm is a weak or thin spot on an artery in the brain that balloons or bulges out and fills with blood. The bulging aneurysm can put pressure on the nerves or brain tissue. It may also burst or rupture, spilling blood into the surrounding tissue . A ruptured aneurysm can cause serious health problems such as hemorrhagic stroke, brain damage, coma, and even death.
Some cerebral aneurysms, particularly those that are very small, do not bleed or cause other problems. These types of aneurysms are usually detected during imaging tests for other medical conditions. Cerebral aneurysms can occur anywhere in the brain, but most form in the major arteries along the base of the skull.
Brain aneurysms can occur in anyone and at any age. They are most common in adults between the ages of 30 and 60 and are more common in women than in men. People with certain inherited disorders are also at higher risk.
All cerebral aneurysms have the potential to rupture and cause bleeding within the brain or surrounding area. Approximately 30,000 Americans per year suffer a brain aneurysm rupture. Much less is known about how many people have cerebral aneurysms, since they dont always cause symptoms. There are no proven statistics but a consensus of scientific papers indicate that between 3 and 5 percent of Americans may have an aneurysm in their lifetime.
Hidden Danger: Brain Aneurysms
A brain aneurysm can sit for years without causing symptoms. In Ms. Allen’s case, there were no signs until she endured severe head and neck pain.
If you experience the worst headache of your life plus symptoms such as vision impairment or neck stiffness, get help right away.
“Going to a proper care facility that specializes in treating neurological events could save your life,” Ms. Allen said. “It saved mine.”
“A ruptured brain aneurysm can be devastating,” Dr. Setton said. “It’s important to be proactive about treatment by finding a tertiary hospital with a multidisciplinary team that collaborates through every stage of the patient’s care. In a sentence: Know the symptoms and know where to go for help.
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Coiling Or Endovascular Therapy
In case of coiling or endovascular therapy, surgeons coil a small and a thin platinum wire within the aneurysm by using a catheter of blood vessel. This is alternative surgical procedure, which results in aneurysm obliteration. Main objective of this treatment associated with un-ruptured type of intracranial aneurysm is to avoid bleeding inside the brain of a patient.
Discovering You Have An 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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Lifestyle Adjustments Can Be Substantial
A brain aneurysm repair can change your life in a number of ways. The surgery can reverse or prevent progression of neurological deficits caused by a brain aneurysm. Brain aneurysm surgery can be done for ruptured or unruptured aneurysms.
After having an operation to relieve the effects of a ruptured brain aneurysm, long term care and lifestyle adjustments may be necessary, even after post-operative healing is complete.
Verywell / Theresa Chiechi
What Is The Survival Rate And Prognosis For A Brain Aneurysm
Researchers estimate that about 6 million people in United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, and about 10% to 15% of these people will have more than one brain aneurysm. Someone with an unruptured brain aneurysm has about a 1% chance of the aneurysm rupturing per year. Patients with giant aneurysms have a much higher risk of rupture. The survival rate for those with a ruptured brain aneurysm is about 60% . For those who survive and recover, about 66% have some permanent neurological defect. In summary, patients with small brain aneurysms that do not rupture have a very good prognosis while those who suffer a rupture have a fair to poor prognosis.
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Dr Dre Breaks His Silence After Suffering Brain Aneurysm
Reich had none of the other risk factors, which include smoking, high blood pressure and a family history of aneurysms. She’d also had no symptoms, which is typical with small unruptured aneurysms.
Strong emotions like anger can increase the chance for an aneurysm to burst and Reich a manager at a retail store did remember being angry at a rude coworker on Oct. 1, 2020, at around the time the horrible headache struck.
It was like the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, she recalled. All of a sudden, it just felt like something had stabbed me in the top of my head, just a sharp piercing pain.
Reich also felt a throbbing, dull pain in the back of her neck. She thought she screamed but no sound came out and part of her body felt numb.
Its Like A Series Of Dominoes
The day Deb arrived at the hospital unconscious after one of her aneurysms ruptured was one of the best days she would have for a while.
Dr. Burris said subarachnoid hemorrhages affect patients the opposite as other diseases in the ICU pneumonia or a heart attack, for example. With those, he said, youre really sick the first day, we do lots of work on you, and then you get better.
But he likens subarachnoid hemorrhages to a series of dominoes. You push the first domino when the aneurysm ruptures, and you really have to try to stop it or eliminate it, but you cant stop all the processes.
So immediately in these cases, the team addresses the hydrocephalus, or fluid building up in the brain. The patient has a shunt or catheter inserted to drain the fluid off, which is building up pressure in the skull. A surgical procedure stops the bleeding. Then the patient stabilizes for a short time.
After that, though, following the typical cycle Dr. Burris describes, Deb became much, much sicker. Her blood pressure stayed drastically low, she possibly had pneumonia, and fluid built up in her lungs.
She had pulmonary edema to the point that we could barely ventilate her, Dr. Burris said. He resorted to an alternative method of ventilation when the standard ventilation proved ineffective.
Pulmonary edema is associated more commonly with heart problems, which also can arise temporarily from subarachnoid hemorrhages including a heart attack.
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Popular Answer Related Brain Aneurysm
Whats the difference between a ruptured and unruptured aneurysm?Answer: A ruptured aneurysm, often called a brain bleed, is when blood breaks through the aneurysms wall and begins bleeding. This triggers serious symptoms, such as a very painful headache like youve never ever felt previously, and requires instant healthcare. With fast, expert treatment, patients can typically recover totally.
What does an aneurysm look like?Answer: Under a surgical microscope, an aneurysm looks like a bubble or blister in a blood vessel. Healthy, surrounding arteries have a pinkish color. The aneurysm looks more reddish, because of a defect in the middle layer of its muscle wall. Many aneurysms take one of two basic shapes: Saccular aneurysms, likewise called berry aneurysms, have a rounded shape that extends from one side of a vessel wall. This type makes up the majority of brain aneurysms identified today. Fusiform aneurysms are likewise called spindle shaped. These look like a snake that swallowed a rat, with ballooning on both sides instead of one. Unlike saccular, these aneurysms tend to form outside the brain and can develop in blood vessels in various parts of the body.
What can you do to prevent aneurysms?Answer: There are risk elements for forming aneurysms. Those threat aspects consist of smoking cigarettes, uncontrolled hypertension and a family history of aneurysms. The very best thing a patient can do is to take blood pressure medication and avoid smoking.
Why Brain Aneurysms Develop
Exactly what causes the wall of affected blood vessels to weaken is still unclear, although risk factors have been identified.
- high blood pressure
- a family history of brain aneurysms
In some cases, an aneurysm may develop because there was a weakness in the walls of the blood vessels at birth.
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The Warning Signs Of A Brain Aneurysm
The symptoms and signs of a ruptured aneurysm include:
- A severe headache that comes out of nowhere
- Blurred vision
- Drooping eyelids
- Passing out
An unruptured aneurysm might not initially have any symptoms, but that usually changes as it grows larger. The warning signs that indicate a person has developed an unruptured brain aneurysm include:
- Pain behind or above an eye
- Double vision
- Numbness on one side of the patient’s face
Patients are advised to seek immediate medical attention if:
- They have a severe headache that is incomparable in pain to past headaches suddenly occurs
- They have a seizure
- They lose consciousness
Treating An Unruptured Brain Aneurysm
We have two different paths we can follow for a patient who has an aneurysm that hasnt burst, explains Dr. Ludwig.
Less common is a surgical treatment for brain aneurysms that requires opening the skull and making the repair. Both procedures are still done it just depends on specific characteristics of the aneurysm as to which surgery would be best, says Dr. Ludwig.
Thanks to technology that evolves at light speed Dr. Ludwig says surgeries increasingly are becoming easier and safer. We started using one new device, a pre-shaped intra-aneurysmal mesh, as soon as the FDA approved it. We were the first in Dayton to use it.
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A Real Awakening Is Not Like Tv
When patients awaken from a coma, Dr. Burris said, they do not act like characters on The Young and the Restless.
On TV, he said, theyre in a coma for five years, and then they open their eyes and have this long discussion as theyre having a cup of coffee.
In reality, he tells patients families to expect something much different.
A patient might start with a blink, or a yawn. Maybe just once and then not for a while. But, Dr. Burris said, it kind of means their brains starting to come back online.
When the doctors get excited about small signs, like a blink even if a patient is far from waking up, families do, too. Were all contagiously happy about these things, Dr. Burris said.
Randy recalls his wifes first blinks. And he recalls that she first opened her eyes when a doctor spoke to her. The doctor asked Deb if she knew where she was, and, as instructed, she blinked twice for no. He told her she was at Sanford hospital with a ruptured brain aneurysm. When he asked if she understood, she blinked once for yes.
Thats how it started, Randy said. Just slowly, she started coming back.
Thats how you knew I was going to be OK, Deb said.
How Big Can An Aortic Aneurysm Get Before It Ruptures
The larger an aneurysm is, the greater the chances are that it will rupture. It is estimated that an abdominal aortic aneurysm that is over 5.5 cm in diameter will rupture within one year in about 3 to 6 out of 100 men. Thats why surgery is often recommended. But there may also be good reasons to not have surgery.
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Is Clipping Or Coiling Right For You
Aneurysm clipping and coiling are effective and relatively safe options for resolving an aneurysm, but they arent equally appropriate for everyone. To determine which procedure is right for you, your doctors will consider a variety of factors, such as your age, overall health condition and the circumstances surrounding your aneurysm.
Because clipping surgery is an invasive procedure with a relatively long recovery time, it may not be appropriate for older, frailer people or for those with chronic health problems. But clipping can treat a wide variety of aneurysm types, and it can resolve an aneurysm with minimal chance for recurrence.
Coiling is minimally invasive, so it can be a safer choice for older patients and those with ongoing health concerns. This procedure can also treat aneurysms in locations that are difficult to access for clipping. But coiling may not be effective for aneurysms of certain shapes and sizes.
When To Call The Doctor
- A severe headache or a headache that gets worse and you feel dizzy
- A stiff neck
- Problems with your eyesight
- Speech problems
- Problems noticing things around you
- Changes in your behavior
- Feel weak or lose consciousness
- Loss of balance or coordination or loss of muscle use
- Weakness or numbness of an arm, leg, or your face
Also, call your surgeon if you have:
- Bleeding at the incision site that does not go away after you apply pressure
- An arm or leg that changes color, becomes cool to touch, or becomes numb
- Redness, pain, or yellow or green discharge in or around the incision site
- A fever higher than 101Â°F or chills
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Are There Any Warning Signs Before A Brain Aneurysm
The ballooning of a blood vessel located in the brain is called a brain aneurysm. It leads to a bulge developing in the blood vessel, and this can rupture or leak in the brain, causing a type of hemorrhagic stroke known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
A ruptured brain aneurysm is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical care. Brain aneurysms are typically the result of thinning artery walls. They usually form at branches or forks in arteries since these are the weakest parts. They can develop on any part of the brain but typically at the base.
Most people develop brain aneurysms that do not rupture, so they do not lead to any health issues. These types of aneurysms are typically detected while the patient is being tested for some other condition.
Treating a brain aneurysm that has not ruptured might prevent a life-threatening condition from occurring in the future. Each patient’s circumstances are unique, so the doctor will advise them on the best way to proceed if an unruptured aneurysm is detected.
What Are The Complications If You Have A Brain Bleed
When the aneurysm leaks or bursts open, blood flows into or around the brain. The pooling blood irritates brain tissue, which can make the brain swell. The result can be permanent brain damage, stroke or other complications such as:
- Vasospasm, when blood vessels get narrower and less oxygen reaches the brain.
- Hydrocephalus, a buildup of spinal fluid around the brain, sometimes called water on the brain, that puts pressure on the brain.
- Coma, when you lose consciousness for several days to weeks.
- Hyponatremia, when the bloods sodium level changes, which can make brain cells swell and cause brain damage.
- Seizures, or muscle convulsions, which can cause further brain damage.
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