Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of an aneurysm can vary from person to person. In some cases, an aneurysm could be hereditary, while for others, it could be the result trauma or injury.
Experts and scientists are still trying to find out what exactly causes an aneurysm, but certain risk factors have been identified over the years—all of which can increase a person’s risk of developing an aneurysm.
What Increases My Risk for an Aneurysm?
There are many risk factors for aneurysm. Here are some of those risk factors:
- Smoking increases a person’s risk of developing an aneurysm. It is still unknown why this is the case, but studies have found that the majority of people with a brain aneurysm are smokers, or have smoked in the past.
- Having high blood pressure or hypertension can increase a person’s risk for developing an aneurysm. Over time, high blood pressure can weaken blood vessels, making them more prone to aneurysm.
- Aneurysm can also be hereditary. This means that if you have a parent, brother, or sister with a brain aneurysm, you also have an increased risk of developing an aneurysm.
- Age also plays a role, as people over 40 have a higher chance of developing an aneurysm compared to someone younger.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In terms of diagnosis, here are some of the ways that an aneurysm can be detected:
- Your doctor may perform a CAT scan or CT scan to check for aneurysms. However, this is usually for patients whose aneurysm has already ruptured.
- Your doctor may perform a magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scan to look for aneurysms that have not ruptured. This helps doctors identify any possible risks, as well as if the aneurysms can be treated before they rupture.
- A procedure called a lumbar puncture can also be done by doctors to check for an aneurysm. In this procedure, a needle is inserted into the spine, in order to get a sample of the spinal fluid. Doctors will then conduct tests to identify if there are possible signs of bleeding within the central nervous system.
If doctors detect an aneurysm, then they will inform you as to what aneurysm treatment would be best to avoid future complications.
Aneurysm treatment varies depending on whether or not the aneurysm has ruptured.
If the aneurysm has not ruptured, it can be treated through the following ways:
- A process called neurosurgical clipping is a form of aneurysm treatment wherein surgery is done to “clip” and seal off an aneurysm in the brain in order to prevent it from rupturing. This is usually done along with a process called a bypass wherein a blood vessel is taken from somewhere in the body, and it is then used to connect and divert the flow of blood around the aneurysm.
- Another process is called endovascular coiling. In this procedure, a small tube is inserted into an artery going to the aneurysm. Afterwards, small coils made of platinum are stuffed inside the aneurysm. These coils block any further blood flow to the aneurysm, which prevents it from rupturing.
In terms of aneurysm treatment, coiling is less invasive than clipping. Coiling also has a lower chance of complications.
However, coiling might need to be done more than once in order to ensure that the aneurysm is completely filled and will not rupture.
If an aneurysm has already ruptured, then the aneurysm treatment will be different.
A drug called nimodipine will be given by doctors in order to make sure that there is enough blood going to the brain. Afterwards, your doctor may perform surgery to either clip or place coils in order to repair the ruptured aneurysm.
The method would depend on whichever the surgeon feels would be best for the patient.