An aneurysm is an outpouching of a blood vessel wall. This can occur anywhere there are blood vessels, including in the brain. The bulging, blood-filled pocket can put pressure on parts of the brain. In addition, the blood vessel can rupture, causing bleeding in the brain. Early detection and diagnosis may help prevent severe or fatal complications in some people. Many aneurysms go unnoticed for a lifetime and cause no symptoms.

Brain aneurysm facts

  • An estimated 6 million Americans have an undetected brain aneurysm (that's 1 in 50)
  • Each year 30,000 undetected aneurysms rupture
  • Ruptured aneurysms are fatal in about 40% of cases. Those who survive a ruptured brain aneurysm may have permanent disabilities.
  • Ruptured brain aneurysms account for 3-5% of all new strokes

Brain aneurysm risk factors

  • Family history of brain aneurysm is one of the biggest risk factors
  • Age over 40
  • Women are at higher risk, especially those who use oral contraceptives.
  • High blood pressure, as well as some other conditions, can increase risk
  • Smoking, drug use and head injury are also risk factors

Brain aneurysm signs & symptoms

  • Sudden onset severe headache also known as a "thunderclap" headache and described as the worst headache of their life.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sudden blurred and/or double vision
  • Sudden trouble moving arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure
  • Stiff neck

Aneurysm screening & treatment

If you have a family history of brain aneurysms, talk to your doctor about getting screened. This may include imaging tests such as a CT scan, CTA (CT Angiography) scan, MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) or a cerebral angiogram.

Treatments include both surgery and interventional techniques such as clipping and coil embolization.