Aneurysm - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
by Juliet Cohen
Aneurysms that result from an infection in the arterial wall are called mycotic
aneurysms. Cancer-related aneurysms are often associated with primary or
metastatic tumors of the head and neck. It is known that men over the age of 60,
and younger men with a brother or father who has had an aneurysm, are at risk. It is
unclear why a person develops a brain aneurysm. It appears that aneurysms are
related to an absence of a muscular layer that makes up part of the blood vessels
that over time stretches and thins. An aneurysm may be small and not cause
symptoms. An ultrasound examination of the abdomen is a very good way of finding
an aneurysm. This is a painless procedure involving a lubricated probe pressing gently
on the abdominal skin (over the aneurysm). Many cases of ruptured aneurysm can
be prevented with early diagnosis and medical treatment. Because aneurysms can
develop and become large before causing any symptoms, it is important to look for
them in people who are at the highest risk.

Causes of Aneurysm

It is not clear exactly what causes aneurysms. Defects in some of the parts of the
artery wall may be responsible. An aneurysm can result from atherosclerosis.
Cerebral aneurysms occur more commonly in adults than in children but they may
occur at any age. They are slightly more common in women than in men. Cerebral
aneurysms are also more common in people with certain genetic diseases, such as
connective tissue disorders and polycystic kidney disease, and certain circulatory
disorders, such as arteriovenous malformations. Other causes include trauma or
injury to the head, high blood pressure, infection, tumors. Some investigators have
speculated that oral contraceptives may increase the risk of developing aneurysms.

Symptoms of Aneurysm

There are many symptoms of a brain aneurysm and each person with an aneurysm
may not experience the same symptoms. Small, unchanging aneurysms generally will
not produce symptoms, whereas a larger aneurysm that is steadily growing may
press on tissues and nerves. Before a larger aneurysm ruptures, the individual may
experience such symptoms as a sudden and unusually severe headache, nausea,
vision impairment, vomiting, and loss of consciousness, or the individual may be
asymptomatic, experiencing no symptoms at all. Rupture of a cerebral aneurysm is
dangerous and usually results in bleeding into the meninges or the brain itself, leading
to a subarachnoid hemorrhage or intracranial hematoma, either of which constitutes
a stroke.

Treatment of Aneurysm

Treatment depends on the size and location of the aneurysm and your overall health.
Aneurysms in the upper chest (the ascending aorta) are usually operated on right
away. Anticonvulsant medications can prevent seizures, analgesics may relieve
headache symptoms, and calcium channel blockers can help widen narrowed blood
vessels. Surgery is also usually required for aneurysms as introducing foreign material
in the low flow veins can produce a high risk blood clotting environment. Patients
who have suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage often need rehabilitative, speech, and
occupational therapy to regain lost function and learn to cope with any permanent

About The Author

Juliet Cohen writes for . She also writes articles for
An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of
an artery. Aneurysms may result
from congenital defects, preexisting
conditions such as high blood
pressure and atherosclerosis (the
buildup of fatty deposits in the
arteries), or head trauma. Aneurysms
most commonly occur in arteries at
the base of the brain and in the aorta.
Aneurysms may involve arteries or
veins and have various causes. They
are commonly further classified by
shape, structure and location.
Cerebral aneurysms occur more
commonly in adults than in children
but they may occur at any age. They
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