Aneurysms explained: Symptoms, risks, and treatments

“Truly a medical emergency,” it’s vital to pay attention to risk factors.

“Unfortunately, many patients don’t experience the symptoms of an aneurysm until it ruptures.”

Dr. Aniel Majjhoo, an interventional neurologist and McLaren Health Care neurosciences medical director, describes one of those symptoms as a sudden and severe headache: “The worst headache of your life.”

Aneurysms are a thinning or weakening of the arterial wall, creating a balloon-like bulge in the brain. Blood flow aids in the growth of aneurysms, and, in many cases, the growth continues while the person remains unaware, experiencing no symptoms.

This, he says, makes paying close attention to aneurysm risk factors vital, especially when also experiencing the seemingly unrelated symptoms of un-ruptured aneurysms.

Risk factors

  • Older age
  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Drug abuse (especially cocaine)
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Family history

Un-ruptured aneurysm symptoms

  • Pain above/behind one eye
  • Dilated pupil
  • Change in vision/double vision
  • Numbness on one side of the face

If one is discovered, minimally invasive procedures exist to naturally shrink an aneurysm. McLaren Health Care interventional neurologists are proficient in such procedures, in which a device is placed over the aneurysm within the blood vessels of the brain, cutting off the blood flow to the aneurysm.

With the blood flow that supported the aneurysm’s growth cut off, the aneurysm will safely and naturally shrink over time.

Common symptoms of ruptured aneurysms

  • Sudden, severe headache described as "worst headache ever"
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Blurred, double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seizure
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion

(A "leaking" aneurysm is often followed by rupture, symptomized by the sudden onset of a severe headache)

"This is truly a medical emergency and should you or anyone around you begin to experience these symptoms, dial 9-1-1 immediately," Dr. Majjhoo said.


Talk to your doctor

Think you’re living with some aneurysm risk factors? Talk about it with a McLaren primary care physician.

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Neurosciences at McLaren Health Care

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