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What is an aneurysm?

An aneurysm is an outward bulging, likened to a bubble or balloon, caused by a localized, abnormal, weak spot on a blood vessel wall. Aneurysms are a result of a weakened blood vessel wall. As an aneurysm increases in size, the risk of rupture increases, leading to uncontrolled bleeding.

Types of aneurysms?

(An aneurysm can occur in any blood vessel, but there are 3 specific types that contribute to the high mortality rate of this disorder.)

PLAY ON FOUNDATION focuses on 1 of the 3 types of aneurysms, the brain aneurysm formally called in the medical field, the cerebral aneurysm.

 

But the other 2 are an abdominal aortic aneurysm (which occurs in the aorta that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs), and a thoracic aortic aneurysm (an abnormal bulging or ballooning of the portion of the aorta the passes through the chest.)

Aneurysm vs. a stroke?

A stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency that affects the brain. Blood supply to parts of the brain suddenly stops, starving these parts of oxygen and nutrients. This can cause the death of brain tissue. An aneurysm that occurs in the brain can potentially lead to but doesn't always result in a stroke.

Symptoms of an aneurysm?

Symptoms can occur when the aneurysm pushes on a structure in the brain. Symptoms will depend on whether an aneurysm has ruptured or not. There may be no symptoms present at all until the aneurysm ruptures. 

 

For an aneurysm that has not ruptured the following symptoms can occur:

For a ruptured aneurysm:

  • Severe headaches

  • Loss of vision

  • Double vision

  • Neck pain or stiffness

  • Pain above or behind the eyes

How to treat an aneurysm?

For all non ruptured aneurysms, please seek medical attention from your local practitioner or family doctor.

 

All ruptured aneurysms are medical emergencies and local emergency services must be contacted immediately (9-1-1 in North America).

Some aneurysm facts:

  • There are almost 500,000 deaths worldwide each year caused by brain aneurysms, and half the victims are younger than 50.

  • Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 40% of cases. Of those who survive, about 66% suffer some permanent neurological deficit.

  • Approximately 15% of people with a ruptured aneurysm die before reaching the hospital. Most of the deaths are due to rapid and massive brain injury from the initial bleeding.

  • Among patients evaluated in an emergency department for headaches, approximately one in 100 has a ruptured aneurysm, according to one study. Another study puts the number at four in 100.

  • Accurate early diagnosis of a ruptured brain aneurysm is critical, as the initial hemorrhage may be fatal or result in devastating neurologic outcomes.

  • The treatment of ruptured brain aneurysms is far more costly than the treatment of unruptured aneurysms: The cost of a brain aneurysm treated by surgical clipping.

  • 20% of people diagnosed with a brain aneurysm have more than one aneurysm.

  • The federal government spends only 83 cents per year on brain aneurysm research for each person afflicted. (Which is why at the Play On Foundation, we hope to begin contributing to more research funding.)

(Facts taken from The Brain Aneurysm Foundation: www.bafound.org)