An Aneurysm is a localized, blood-filled balloon-like bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. It can occur in any blood vessel, with examples, including aneurysms of the circle of Willis in the brain, aortic aneurysms affecting the thoracic aorta, and abdominal aortic aneurysms. It can also occur within the heart itself. Read on to know more about Aneurysm Signs and Symptoms.

Aneurysm

The aneurysm can be classified by their location. The brain, including cerebral aneurysms, berry aneurysms, and Charcot–Bouchard aneurysms.

As an aneurysm increases in size, the risk of rupture increases. A ruptured aneurysm can lead to bleeding and subsequent hypovolemic shock, an emergency condition in which severe blood and fluid loss make the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body. This type of shock can cause many organs to stop working, leading to death.

Since, it is a result of a weakened blood vessel wall, and can be a result of a hereditary condition or an acquired disease. It can also be a nidus for clot formation (thrombosis) and embolization.

Types of Aneurysms

There are different types of aneurysms, it includes cerebral aneurysms, thoracic aortic aneurysms and abdominal aortic aneurysms.

1. Cerebral Aneurysm– is also known as intracranial or brain aneurysms. It occurs in a blood vessel in the brain. This can cause severe strokes leading to death. An aneurysm in the brain has no relationship to other aneurysms in the body, but in a small number of people, there is a family history. Cerebral aneurysms are more common over the age of 60.

2. Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm– occurs in the aorta close to the heart. Conditions that cause Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm include aging, or the inevitable deterioration of the body along with the aorta; development of cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels; chronic hypertension, where high tension in the wall of the arteries destroys the integrity of the arteries; chest injury from accidents that can tear or rupture the aorta; and genetic predisposition.

A simple change in lifestyle, such as adopting a diet and a set of activities that can control blood pressure, can help prevent the disease from developing or progressing.

3. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm– is the dilation of the aorta in the abdomen area. People normally associate smoking with lung problems or cancer, but it also affects the blood vessels starting from the head all the way to the toes. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm caused the death of physicist Albert Einstein. As it turns out, smoking is deadlier than you think.

Signs and Symptoms of Aneurysm

An aneurysm may have no symptoms until it is either very large or it ruptures. Sometimes the symptoms depend on which blood vessel is affected.

1. Cerebral Aneurysm Symptoms:

  • Severe headache with rapid onset
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Increasing drowsiness
  • Paralysis, seizures
  • Impaired speech and visual problems.

An unruptured cerebral aneurysm may have no symptoms related to it at all and may be discovered incidentally.

2. Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Symptoms

  • Pain in the chest, back and neck
  • Coughing
  • Breathlessness
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Hoarseness of the voice
  • Swelling of the arms
  • A constricted pupil and drooping of the eyelid affecting one eye

However, in many cases, a thoracic aortic aneurysm doesn’t cause any symptoms and is discovered by accident during medical examinations for an unrelated condition.

3. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Symptoms

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Sweating and the sensation of a pulse in the abdomen

Causes of Aneurysms

Some of the causes of aneurysms include:

  • A weakness in the blood vessel wall that is present from birth (congenital aneurysm)
  • Fatty plaques (atherosclerosis) resulting in a weakness of the blood vessel wall
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) over many years, resulting in damage and weakening of blood vessels
  • Inherited diseases that may result in weaker than normal blood vessel walls
  • Polycystic kidney disease increasing the risk of cerebral aneurysm
  • Trauma, such as a crush injury to the chest
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) syphilis, if untreated, targeting the aorta and weakening its walls
  • Very occasionally, an infection targeting and weakening a section of blood vessel

Or sometimes the causes remain unknown.

Treatment for an Aneurysm

The treatment depends on its location and severity, but may include:

  • Cerebral aneurysm– is repaired either by coils or stent insertion, or by surgery where the aneurysm has been clipped. If the aneurysm has ruptured, then you will need to stay in hospital for up to 21 days because of potential complications, including vasospasm and hydrocephalus. Around one third of all people, who experience a ruptured cerebral aneurysm die, and less than 30 per cent get back to a pre-rupture state.
  • Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm– requires drugs to control high blood pressure and surgery to repair the aneurysm if necessary. Sometimes, the nearby heart valve may also need fixing during the operation. Most people with a ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm die within minutes.
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm– requires drugs to control high blood pressure and surgery to repair the aneurysm if necessary. The mortality rate is more than 50 per cent if the aneurysm ruptures.

Diagnosis of an Aneurysm

The aneurysm can be diagnosed by using a number of tests which includes:

  • Physical examination
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound scans
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans or CT angiograms
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or MR angiograms
  • Digital subtraction angiograms
  • Examination of cerebrospinal fluid (for a diagnosis of a subarachnoid haemorrhage)

Always remember that aneurysm is an abnormal swelling or bulge in the wall of a blood vessel, such as an artery. It can occur anywhere throughout the circulatory system, but most commonly develop along the body’s main artery that runs the length of the trunk or the aorta and in blood vessels of the brain. They are potentially fatal if they rupture. To know more about aneurysm consult your doctor.

Category: Health

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