Aneurysms occur when the arteries in the body become weakened and become stretched out or enlarged. Oftentimes, aneurysms are considered to be a large bulge in an artery. They can occur in the brain (a brain aneurysm) and in the aorta as well as in smaller arteries throughout the body.
The aorta is the main blood vessel or artery and carries the majority of the body’s blood supply. Because of this, an abdominal aortic aneurysm can grow quite large, and if it bursts, the consequences could be severe.
Other areas in which aneurysms commonly occur include the legs as well as the spleen. Aneurysms are the most common arterial condition among people in the United States and can be caused by fatty deposits and blockages in the artery, high blood pressure, and other conditions.
Oftentimes, aneurysms cause no symptoms at all until they burst (though they do not always burst, either). There are aneurysms that develop near the surface of the skin as well, and these aneurysms can cause visible swelling and may be painful.
Symptoms of an aneurysm include headaches, lightheadedness, rapid heart rate, chest pain, and lower back pain.
You can inherit a propensity for aneurysms. They can also develop due to hardening of the arteries and aging. Some causes are controllable while others are not. Smoking and high blood pressure are the other main causes.
Family history impacts your likelihood to develop an aneurysm. So, if someone in your family had a brain aneurysm, you are more prone to develop one. Along the same lines, if you previously had an aneurysm, you are more likely to have another.
Women are far more likely to develop a brain aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the space between your brain and its surrounding tissue). Similarly, African Americans are more prone than white people to both conditions.
High blood pressure greatly increases the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage, while smoking greatly increases the risk of a brain aneurysm rupturing.
If an aneurysm is caused by high blood pressure or cholesterol, treatment may consist of prescription medications for those conditions.
If an aneurysm is especially large, shows danger of rupture, or does rupture, surgery is the best treatment option. An endovascular stent graft is one option and is minimally invasive. The stent is a supportive device that helps the artery to maintain proper shape and structure so that it does not continue to bulge. An open stent graft surgery can also be performed which means that a larger incision is made.
Open surgery is often done in emergency situations in which the aneurysm has ruptured or when the surgeon needs a larger visual field.
You can’t completely prevent brain aneurysms, but not smoking and keeping your blood pressure under control can greatly reduce your risks.
If you need help to stop smoking, your doctor can refer you to a stop smoking service, where you will receive help and advice on how to quit. You can also ask your GP to prescribe a medical treatment to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal.
High blood pressure significantly increases your risk of developing a brain aneurysm. In order to reduce that risk, you need to make some lifestyle changes. Eat a healthy diet, low in salt, with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Drink in moderation. Men and women should not drink more than 14 alcoholic beverages in a week.
Try to maintain a healthy weight. Losing even a few pounds makes a difference in your blood pressure. Stay active and exercise regularly. Remember that exercise reduces your blood pressure because your heart and blood vessels are in good health.
You can drink tea, coffee and caffeine drinks, but you should also drink lots of water.