What IS a Brain Aneurysm?

I have an apology to make as I got a few points slightly wrong in my recent newsletter.The principal situation is near enough, but the condition that Peter had was an Aortic aneurysm, NOT brain. The potential effect is pretty much the same – the demise of the sufferer. Also just a bit of further information – Peter was in his late teens and was working at the airline with real ambitions to become a pilot.

My apologies for the oversight there, but the principal outcome of the aneurysm could have been the same.

A cerebral aneurysm is the ‘ballooning out’ of a weak spot in the wall of a brain artery. This bulge, caused overtime by pumping blood, usually occurs at the ‘fork’ of large arteries at the base of the brain.

Who is at risk?

Aneurysms are commonly diagnosed in patients with no risk factors however genetics, untreated health conditions and certain lifestyles can increase the risk of them rupturing.

Other factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Cigarette smoking not only contributes to high blood pressure (hypertension is another risk factor), it significantly increases the damage and weakening of blood vessels.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • High levels of alcohol consumption and particularly the use of cocaine have been linked to brain hemorrhaging.
  • Rare disorders
  • Fibromuscular disease (artery disease), adult polycystic kidney disorder, neurofibromatosis (a genetically inherited disorder of the nervous system), and Ehlers-Danlos (connective tissue disorder that affects blood vessels, bones and skin).

“If any of these risk factors apply to you, especially if you have first-degree family with an aneurysm, seek medical advice as to whether a screening may be suitable,” says Dr Yan.

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