Brain Aneurysm: Everything You Need To Know

What is a Brain Aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm, also known as a cerebral aneurysm, is the enlargement or bulging of a blood vessel in the brain due to a weakness in the vessel wall. An aneurysm is usually described as looking like a berry on a stem. An enlarged aneurysm can affect different parts of the body by pressing on surrounding brain tissue and nerves. 


Brain aneurysms can vary in its presentation. Small aneurysms may not cause any health issues. Usually, these aneurysms are incidental findings on imaging tests for other medical conditions. 


There is a risk that an aneurysm may rupture, and blood spreads in the surround brain tissue (known as a hemorrhage). A ruptured aneurysm is a can lead to serious health concerns such as stoke, loss of consciousness, brain damage, and death.


Many brain aneurysms do not present with any symptoms and are undetected; this makes it difficult to estimate the number of cases in the general population. Several studies predict that aneurysms may affect 2-3% of the population. Brain aneurysms may develop in anybody and at any age but are usually found in adults between 30 and 60. Brain aneurysms are more common in women than men.  

What are the symptoms for brain aneurysms?

Brain aneurysms may present differently depending on the status of the aneurysm. 

Unruptured Aneurysm

This type of brain aneurysm does not usually present with symptoms unless they a very large.

A large unruptured brain aneurysm may present with:

  • body weakness or numbness
  • pain behind the eye
  • changes in vision
  • abnormally dilated pupil
  • one side of the face has paralysis

Ruptured Aneurysm

A ruptured brain aneurysm always presents with a rapid onset and very severe headache,  usually described as the worst headache of your life. It may also present with:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • vision changes/double vision
  • neck stiffness
  • light sensitivity
  • seizures
  • changes in consciousness
  • cardiac arrest

What causes brain aneurysms?

Brain aneurysms occur when the walls of the blood vessels in the brain weaken and thin out. There are a few different risk factors that contribute to the development of an aneurysm. Some are due to inherited risk factors and others due to use over time.

Risk factors for developing brain aneurysms

Brain aneurysm as a result of inherited or genetic risk factors include:

  • connective tissue disorders (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Marfan Syndome, etc.)
  • arteriovenous malformations (tangles that occur between the blood vessels)
  • polycystic kidney disease
  • family history of aneurysm (child, sibling, or parent)


Brain aneurysm as a result of other risk factors over time include:

  • increasing age
  • persistent high blood pressure
  • cigarette smoking 
  • drug use, especially amphetamines or cocaine
  • traumatic head injuries
  • brain tumors
  • infections

Risk factors for ruptured brain aneurysms

  • high blood pressure
  • smoking
  • larger size of aneurysm
  • growth rate of aneurysm
  • location of an
  • family history of ruptured aneurysms
  • previous history of rupture

How do you diagnose brain aneurysms?

Brain aneurysms are usually not detected unless they present with severe symptoms or via incidental findings when doing medical tests for other conditions. 


There are a few tests that can be used to diagnose brain aneurysms:


  • Computed tomography (CT Scan). This quick and painless scan is usually the first test a physician will request to determine whether blood is leaking into the brain. CT scans use x-rays to make visual representations of the brain and skull. This can help localize the possible affected area.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  This uses radio waves and magnetic fields to create visual representations of the brain. More specifically, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) can be used to create detailed images of the brain’s blood vessels, which can determine the size, shape, and location of aneurysms.
  • Cerebral angiography. This is another imaging modality that can identify blockages and weak spots in an artery. This is a more invasive procedure whereby the doctor will pass a catheter, usually from the groin, to inject some contrast dye to the neck and brain vessels. This procedure helps identify aneurysms and any other blockages in the arteries. 
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis. This test requires the extraction of CSF which is the fluid that protects the brain and spinal cord. This involves a lumbar puncture, in which a thin needle is inserted in the lower back and some fluid is extracted and tested. This can help identify if there is any bleeding in the brain.

How do you treat brain aneurysms?

The treatment of a brain aneurysm depends on its presentation, sometimes no treatment is needed. Small unruptured aneurysms without any risk factors be left alone and monitored for growth and progression. It is more important to manage any pre-existing risk factors or coexisting medical conditions, to reduce that chances of aneurysm rupture:

  • Properly manage blood pressure
  • Smoking cessation
  • Avoid illicit drugs such as cocaine. 

Treatments for unruptured and ruptured brain aneurysms

There are several modalities that can be used to treat brain aneurysms, including surgical and endovascular methods.


  • Microvascular clipping. This is an invasive procedure that requires the doctor locate the blood vessels connected to the aneurysm and then apply a tiny metal “clip” near the aneurysm to stop its blood supply. This is highly effective, depending on the size, shape, and location of the aneurysm.

Endovascular treatment

  • Microvascular clipping. This is an invasive procedure that requires the doctor locate the blood vessels connected to the aneurysm and then apply a tiny metal “clip” near the aneurysm to stop its blood supply. This is highly effective, depending on the size, shape, and location of the aneurysm.


  • Antiseizure medications. These can help reduce/prevent seizures associated with ruptured aneurysm.
  • Calcium channel-blocking medications. These medications reduce the risk of strokes. 


Here at EVA Teleconsult, we have expert doctors like our Primary care physicians who can give the appropriate advice for brain aneurysms. Furthermore, our doctors are always ready to address any questions or concerns you may have about brain aneurysms or almost any other related condition. Here is how EVA works, at EVA our patients are guaranteed to experience the following: 

  • Timely appointments – No more time wasted while waiting outside a doctor’s office. With us, appointments begin right when they’re supposed to, even if they’re made the same day.
  • Guaranteed 30-minute consultation times – No more rushing or quickly dashed off prescriptions with no explanations. Our doctors take the time needed to give you information about your concerns, and are open to answering all your questions.
  • 5-star ratings for our doctors – Because our doctors know how to explain things in a way patients can understand, we frequently get positive feedback from them.

If you feel that you may have symptoms of a brain aneurysm but are unsure, it always best to seek medical advice from a health care professional. Get the treatment you or your loved ones need and book an online consultation today.

Experience EVA Teleconsult