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Genetics and Brain Aneurysms: Does a Family History Put You at Risk?

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Maybe your mother had a brain aneurysm. Or your father’s sister. Or maybe one of your siblings. But does a family history of a brain aneurysm put you at risk?

Research has shown that there is a connection between genetics and brain aneurysms. The Brain Aneurysm Foundation stated that the incidence of familial aneurysms among patients who have had subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the space between the brain and the membranes that cover it) ranges from 6 percent to 20 percent, with a familial aneurysm defined as “the presence of two or more family members among first- and second-degree relatives with proven aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage or incidental aneurysms.”

The organization noted that the familial link of brain aneurysms may be due to “a genetic component and the possibility of a genetically determined defect of the arterial wall.”

A study led at the Yale University School of Medicine identified three genetic variants linked to a higher risk of brain aneurysms. Combined with previous research, the number of genomes identified is now up five, which have contributed to almost 500,000 cases throughout the world, according to Yale News.

The study analyzed the genomes of 5,891 brain aneurysm patients and 14,181 unaffected individuals. The results of the study were that individuals who had all three of the newly identified genetic variants were five to seven times more likely to have a brain aneurysm compared to individuals who had none of the genetic variants.

In addition, several inherited conditions can increase an individual’s risk for developing a brain aneurysm. For example, certain inherited connective tissue disorders can increase the risk of having a brain aneurysm.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a type of connective tissue disorder that can weaken the patient’s blood vessels. Another inherited disorder associated with an increased risk is polycystic kidney disease, which can increase a patient’s blood pressure.

While screenings for unruptured brain aneurysms is usually not recommended for individuals, MayoClinic.com noted that individuals with a family history of a brain aneurysm may want to discuss the benefits of a screening. This especially includes individuals who have had two first-degree family members, such as a parent and a sibling, develop a brain aneurysm.


The Brain Aneurysm Foundation. Understanding: Family History. Web. 17 February 2012

Yale News. Massive Yale-Led Genome Analysis Reveals New Genetic Risks for Aneurysms. Web. 17 February 2012

MayoClinic.com. Brain Aneurysm. Web. 17 February 2012

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Aneurysm in the Brain. Web. 17 February 2012

Reviewed February 17, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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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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