An aneurysm is a weak, bulging area in one of the arteries that is connected to the brain. It is estimated that 10 percent of the population has aneurysms, but fewer than that have been diagnosed because this condition is considered asymptomatic or no symptoms are felt until blood begins to leak or if the artery is ruptured. When the artery ruptures, a subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs and this may lead to brain damage or death depending on the extent of the damage. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a subarachnoid hemorrhage in order to catch the problem and treat it in time.
Symptoms of a Ruptured Aneurysm
It is possible for people to develop an aneurysm and go through their whole lives without knowing they have this condition; however, the risk of a rupture will always be present. There are some lucky patients who consult a doctor for a totally unrelated issue and end up finding out about the swollen artery after undergoing a CT scan. But for most people they find out about it only after blood has leaked from the artery into the subarachnoid space. When this happens, a person feels a sudden and intense pain, often described as “the worst headache they’ve ever had.”
Several symptoms that occur with an aneurysm are stiff neck, nausea, sensitivity to light and vomiting. A person experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. If these symptoms are ignored, the next episode may prove to be more catastrophic. A person may fall into a coma or could die depending on how much blood is lost. People who have episodic or chronic headaches can tell if there’s something different about the headaches they experience and should know better than to ignore them. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if these symptoms occur together, see a headache specialist immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Whether or not there’s a rupture, the only way to treat this problem is through surgery. Any type of brain surgery has its risks and doctors need to weigh the risk of performing surgery versus leaving it alone. In cases where the problem is caught accidentally through a CT scan, a doctor may opt to leave it alone if the size of the bulge is less than 10mm in size and the risk of rupture is low. If the bulge in the artery is large and susceptible to rupture, or if the patient has already undergone surgery for a previous rupture, surgery is then the better option. If the rupture has already occurred, surgery has to be performed immediately to contain the bleeding and prevent further damage caused by the bleeding.
Catching the swollen artery early is very important to reduce the risk of brain damage or death due to subarachnoid hemorrhaging. This is why it is very important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of an aneurysm and contact a doctor or headache specialist immediately when these symptoms occur.