Just because you have been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm doesn’t mean you will die. What can cause death and disability is when the aneurysm ruptures. This life-threatening medical emergency requires immediate attention but can have good outcomes if treated immediately.
This blog explains the differences between brain aneurysms and brain aneurysm ruptures. It also describes the complications that can cause death and disability associated with a rupture and what you can do now to prevent pain and suffering.
A brain aneurysm is a weak spot on the artery in the brain. Over time, the weak spot will expand like a balloon due to the rhythmic pressure of the heart pumping blood. Not every brain aneurysm that develops will cause problems. Some weak spots that balloon out will retain their size and shape, allowing the patient to live everyday life without intervention, just observation.
The rupture, a “burst,” happens when the vessel wall has thinned and weakened to the point that it breaks open. Blood can leak slowly for days or weeks before a significant rupture called a sentinel bleed. But in many cases, the brain aneurysm will suddenly “burst” like a balloon sending a rush of blood into the area surrounding the brain called the subarachnoid space. A rupture is fatal in about 50% of cases, and of those who survive, about 66% will suffer permanent neurological deficits.
When the brain aneurysm ruptures, sending blood into the subarachnoid space, the normal pressures and blood flow in the brain are disrupted. Below are four complications that could potentially damage brain tissue and cells leading to death and disability if not treated in time.
A subarachnoid hemorrhage is a type of stroke where blood pools into the area between the brain and skull, most commonly through a ruptured brain aneurysm. Pressure increases when blood accumulates in the brain, which can result in damaging or destroying brain cells if medical intervention is delayed. It can also cause the arteries to narrow unpredictably and cause vasospasms.
A vasospasm is when blood vessels in the brain spasm or narrow, limiting or blocking blood flow to vital areas of the brain. Brain tissue could be damaged or trigger an Ischemic stroke in these blood-deprived areas.
An ischemic stroke occurs in an area of the brain where the blood supply is reduced or blocked. The necessary oxygen and nutrients cannot reach the brain tissue, resulting in damaged cells and tissue.
Hydrocephalus is a condition when too much fluid, known as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), builds up within the fluid-filled spaces inside the brain (ventricles). This protective fluid is constantly circulating in and around the hollow areas of the brain and spinal cord. The body is continuously producing this fluid, and it must be absorbed. Blood from a brain aneurysm rupture can affect the absorption process and cause it to accumulate. Consequently, this can increase pressure inside the brain, damaging brain tissue and hindering blood flow.
The best way to prevent death and disability from a brain aneurysm is to stop it from rupturing. Still, immediate medical intervention can prevent the condition from worsening in the case of a rupture. Stabilizing the brain will help it return to normal pressure and blood flow, assisting a patient in recovering. Earlier in the process will mean less damage. That is why it’s essential not to ignore the warning signs and symptoms and go to the ER immediately for a brain scan.
Advocating to get a brain scan is also the best way to discover if you have a brain aneurysm before it ruptures. Brain aneurysms are beatable and treatable, and the survival rate is drastically improved with early diagnosis and treatment!