Brain Aneurisms:

One Possible Outcome Of
A Damaged Cardiovascular System

Brain Aneurisms: An Overview

At first one might think that the topic of brain aneurisms is beyond the scope of a website about optimal heart health. However, brain aneurisms – like other types of aneurisms – are caused by a weakness in the cardiovascular system.

The cause of a brain aneurism is not always known. But it is commonly believed that aneurisms develop when an artery is damaged by…

  • Disease
  • Injury
  • Abnormality present at birth
  • Atherosclerosis build-up

Other contributing factors may include…

  • Smoking
  • Hemophilia
  • Leukemia
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Decreased blood platelet count
  • Blood infections

Whatever the initial cause it is important to remember that brain aneurisms are exacerbated by high blood pressure. If you are concerned that you may have a brain aneurism, or you – like me – take prevention seriously, be sure to keep your blood pressure down. To understand why let’s take a look at…

The Development of Brain Aneurisms

Like all aneurisms, a brain aneurism is a bulge that occurs at a weakened part of an artery. Specifically it is a dilation of an artery – located in or around the brain - where the inner muscular layer of the artery (the intima) has been weakened.

It is similar to an inner tube that has been over-inflated. The weakest part of the inner-tube swells to compensate for increased air pressure. If the inner-tube were in good shape the whole tube would swell slightly as air pressure increased. Since one area of the tube is weaker than the rest that one area forms a bulge.

As mentioned above, our arteries can become damaged from a number of causes. One common cause is increased atherosclerosis build-up, otherwise known as hardening of the arteries. 

As the arteries become 'hardened' they also become less flexible like an old inner-tube. They cannot stretch as well as they once could. Atherosclerosis also causes a weakening of the artery walls. The combination of less flexible arteries - along with weak spots in the artery wall - is an opportunity for a bulge to form.

Now comes the pressure… that is blood pressure. As our hardened, less flexible, weakened arteries undergo higher levels of pressure a bulge occurs at a weak point. If the bulge does not burst its size may be reduced by lowering the pressure that is pushing against it.


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Are there health issues – in addition to your heart health – that concern you? Like…

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What Happens When a Brain Aneurism Bursts?

It is estimated that about 6% of the American population may have unruptured brain aneurisms. Many of these do not even know it. Another 30,000 people in the U.S. suffer from brain aneurisms that do rupture. 

Brain aneurisms are said to rupture when a hole develops in the sac of the aneurism. Most brain aneurisms rupture when they reach a diameter of at least 10mm – or about half an inch. If the hole is small only a small amount of blood leaks out. In some cases the aneurism heals and the bleeding stops.

Large holes, however, do sometimes develop. In such cases major hemorrhaging occurs. In more serious cases, the bleeding may cause brain damage with paralysis or coma. In the most severe cases a ruptured brain aneurism can lead to death.

Internal bleeding can occur in any part of the brain. Blood may accumulate in the brain tissues or in the space between the brain and the membranes covering the brain. This space surrounding the brain is known as the subarachnoid space. Bleeding that occurs in this area is a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

When an artery in the brain bursts, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood, it's called a cerebral hemorrhage. Hemorrhaging may be isolated to part of one cerebral hemisphere. This is called a lobar intracerebral hemorrhage. Bleeding may also occur in other brain structures such as…

  • the cerebellum
  • the thalamus
  • the pons
  • the basal ganglia

In such cases the bleeding is termed a deep intracerebral hemorrhage.

When hemorrhaging occurs blood irritates the brain tissues causing swelling (cerebral edema). The blood can also collect within the brain into a mass known as a hematoma. With either of these conditions pressure is increased on the brain tissues causing rapid deterioration.

Though not all brain aneurisms cause death or serious damage they should not be taken lightly. For more information on the detection and treatment options related to brain aneurisms please return to the main aneurisms page and follow the links. Or you can simply use the links below. 

Diagnosing a Brain Aneurism 

What Treatments Are Available? 

Return from "Brain Aneurisms" to "Aneurisms Main Page".

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