Modern Heart and Vascular Institute

Cardiovascular Specialist & Board Certified Cardiologist located in Humble, TX, Katy, TX & Cleveland, TX

brain having a stroke

Aneurysms are serious medical conditions that can develop over years and cause death or significant disability. Learning to recognize the types and causes of aneurysms, plus their treatments, can help you avoid complications and live a long and healthy life. At Modern Heart and Vascular, we’re ready to help you prevent and handle the challenges that come with heart and brain aneurysms.

What Is an Aneurysm?

An aneurysm occurs when a blood vessel wall weakens and becomes enlarged or distended. If left untreated, these bulges can rupture and cause life-threatening damage. Aneurysmal dilatations can occur in any blood vessel in your body, including arteries and veins. There are three main types of aneurysms:

  1. Aortic aneurysm: The aorta is the largest artery in your body and carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body. When the aorta’s wall weakens, it bulges outward and forms an aneurysm. A leak or rupture will interfere with your blood flow and cause severe internal bleeding. Aortic aneurysms are the most common type.
  2. Cerebral (or intracranial) aneurysm: Aneurysms can also occur in your brain. Ballooning vessels in your brain pose a risk of rupturing, which causes internal bleeding and damages your brain cells. 
  3. Peripheral aneurysm: Peripheral aneurysms encompass the other blood vessels throughout your body. You can develop aneurysms behind the knee, in the neck or groin and near internal organs.

Causes of Aneurysms

The exact causes of aortic, cerebral and peripheral aneurysms are often unknown, but certain conditions increase your risks. The following medical and lifestyle factors influence the chances of developing an aneurysm:

  • High blood pressure
  • Older age
  • Congenital disorders
  • Alcohol, tobacco and drug use
  • Physical injuries

The likelihood of an aneurysm rupturing or splitting (dissection) depends on each individual’s conditions, the size of the bulge and other risk factors.

Aneurysm Symptoms

Aneurysms can develop over time without noticeable signs. Symptoms often don’t appear until the aneurysm ruptures and requires emergency medical attention. However, rapid enlargement, aneurysms pressing on parts of the brain or leaking may cause the following symptoms:

  • Sudden and extreme headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Chest, back or abdominal pain
  • Abnormal vision changes
  • Weakness in the body

Treatment for Aneurysms

If you have a ruptured aneurysm, you need immediate medical care. Ruptures cause life-threatening internal bleeding, put excessive pressure on the brain and can lead to stroke or other complications. Doctors will perform emergency surgery to stop the bleeding, manage complications and relieve pain. 

Treatment for unruptured aneurysms can vary. Because they often have no noticeable symptoms, tests and screening are necessary to identify unruptured aneurysms in your brain, heart or other blood vessels. If you have an aneurysm, your doctor will evaluate the risks and determine the best course of action. In some cases, only regular monitoring is necessary. If you’re at risk for rupture, your doctor might recommend surgery or medication to reinforce the weakened vessel and prevent rupture.

Aneurysm Prevention

While the causes of some aneurysms are unknown or unavoidable, you can take measures to reduce the risks of developing or rupturing an aneurysm. Quit smoking, exercise regularly and eat well to improve your overall cardiovascular health through lifestyle changes. Managing your blood pressure and other underlying conditions will also help prevent serious complications.

Learn more by requesting an appointment at Modern Heart and Vascular today.

This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.