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Diseases of the Brain: What is a Brain Aneurysm?

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Brain Aneurysm related image Photo: Getty Images

Throughout the body are blood vessels which transport blood. When a weak area in the blood vessel’s wall balloons out, this is called an aneurysm.

When this ballooning or bulging of a blood vessel’s wall occurs in the brain, it is called a brain aneurysm or cerebral aneurysm. This type of aneurysm is more common in adults and women, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

MedlinePlus noted that about 5 percent of the population has a brain aneurysm. But for many people, these cerebral aneurysms remain undisturbed. For others, the aneurysm can rupture or cause symptoms if it puts pressure on another structure in the brain.

Causes and Risk Factors of a Brain Aneurysm

An aneurysm of the brain occurs when there is degeneration or thinning of the blood vessel’s walls. In some cases, the aneurysm is present at birth. Injury may occur to the blood vessel, resulting in the weakening of its walls.

Risk factors for a brain aneurysm can be present at birth or occur later in a person’s life. For example, risk factors that are present at birth include inherited disorders, such as polycystic kidney disease or inherited connective tissue disorders, like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

If a person has an abnormally narrow aorta, she has a higher risk of having a brain aneurysm. Other risk factors that are present at birth include a family history of a brain aneurysm and cerebral arteriovenous malformation.

As a person gets older, other risk factors may occur. For example, in women, lower estrogen levels after menopause increases the risk for an aneurysm of the brain, according to MayoClinic.com. Certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drug abuse and heavy alcohol consumption, are risk factors for a cerebral aneurysm. Other risk factors of a brain aneurysm include older age, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, certain blood infections and head injury.

Symptoms of a Brain Aneurysm

Some people with a brain aneurysm may not have symptoms. But if the aneurysm ruptures, leaks or puts pressure on another part of the brain, it can result in symptoms.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Brain Aneurysm

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