BLOG - Six Myths and Facts about Brain Aneurysms
The Brain Aneurysm Foundation estimates that 1 out of 50 people have an unruptured brain aneurysm. Brain aneurysms 一 also called cerebral brain aneurysms 一 are weak spots in a blood vessel in your brain. The force of blood against the weak spot causes the vessel to bulge out. If the aneurysm ruptures, it becomes a serious medical emergency. The neurology specialists here at Ventura Neuroscience Center are skilled at diagnosing and treating aneurysms with interventional neurosurgery even before they rupture.
Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding this condition. Below, we shed light on the six myths and facts about brain aneurysms.
Myth #1: Aneurysms appear out of nowhere
Fact: Brain aneurysms can develop slowly over time. It’s possible to have an unruptured aneurysm for years. However, there are some warning signs that hint at the presence of a cerebral aneurysm.
Signs of an unruptured aneurysm include:
- Double vision or blurry vision
- Droopy eyelid
- Dilated pupil
- Pain behind one eye
Signs of a ruptured aneurysm include:
- Headache (often described as “the worst headache of your life”)
- Droopy eyelid
- Stiff neck
- Loss of consciousness
- Sensitivity to light
If you suspect a loved one has a ruptured aneurysm, call 9-1-1. Don’t attempt to drive them to the emergency department on your own.
Myth #2: A ruptured aneurysm is always fatal
Fact: While ruptured aneurysms are a serious medical emergency, they aren’t always fatal. About half of all ruptured aneurysms are fatal. Swift emergency medical attention can dramatically improve your odds of survival.
Myth #3: Cerebral aneurysms only affect women
Fact: Cerebral aneurysms don’t just affect women. However, women over the age of 55 are 1.5 times more likely to have an aneurysm than men. Interestingly, pediatric brain aneurysms are more common in boys than girls.
Myth #4: You can’t cure an aneurysm
Fact: Aneurysm can be treated. Your treatment approach depends upon the size, progression, and location of the rupture. A ruptured aneurysm requires emergency surgery to stop excess bleeding in your brain.
Here at Ventura Neuroscience Center, we perform traditional aneurysm clipping as well as minimally invasive techniques to cut off blood flow to the affected artery (the one with the aneurysm). Aneurysm coiling isn’t an open surgery. Instead, we insert a thin tube called a catheter into an artery in your groin. Once the catheter reaches that affected blood vessel in your brain, our team of expert neurosurgeons inserts platinum coils. These coils cause the blood to clot.
If your aneurysm hasn’t ruptured yet, you may benefit from interventional neurosurgery in which we stop brain aneurysms from bulging out to the point where they rupture.
Myth #5: You can’t prevent aneurysms
Fact: There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing an aneurysm. Like many conditions that are risk factors you can control and some you can’t. Risk factors in your control include smoking, excessive drinking, weight, and untreated hypertension. Risk factors you can’t control include age, gender, race, having abnormal artery walls, or having underlying medical conditions, such as Marfan syndrome.
Myth #6: You can’t tell the difference between a stroke and a ruptured brain aneurysm
Fact: This is partially true. Strokes and ruptured brain aneurysms share many of the same symptoms, including pain, confusion, and vision issues. However, aneurysm symptoms can develop slowly (especially if it hasn’t ruptured), but stroke symptoms come on quickly. Both conditions are medical emergencies.