What is Aneurysm: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatment, Survival Rate

What is Aneurysm?

An individual develops an Aneurysm when the walls of the artery become weak resulting in formation of an abnormally large bulge. The bulge may become so large that it can rupture and result in internal bleeding. Aneurysm can occur in any part of the body but it is mostly seen in brain, aorta, legs, and spleen. Rupture of an Aneurysm is quite dangerous and can lead to life threatening complications and prompt treatment is required in such cases.

What is Aneurysm?

What are the Causes of Aneurysm?

The exact etiology as to why an Aneurysm occurs is still not clear but there are certain factors which tend to contribute to the development of Aneurysm. A damaged tissue in the artery may play a role in the development of an Aneurysm. Fatty deposits blocking the arteries may also result in formation of an Aneurysm as these blockages require heart to pump in more harder than normal so that blood can pass through these blocked arteries and this can damage the arteries significantly. There are also certain medical conditions which can cause Aneurysm. These conditions are:

Aneurysm Caused Due to Atherosclerotic Disease: This is a condition in which there is a build up of plaque in the arteries which damages the arteries and can result in formation of an Aneurysm.

Hypertension: Persistent and untreated hypertension tends to weaken the vessels and arteries and thus with time may result in formation of an Aneurysm.

What are the Different Types of Aneurysm?

There are different types of Aneurysm depending on the location on where they are formed. These types of Aneurysm are:

Aortic Aneurysm: The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body which begins in the left ventricle of the heart and traverses to the abdomen where it splits into both legs. Because of its sheer size, it is quite a common site for Aneurysm to occur. If an Aneurysm develops in the chest cavity then it is called as thoracic aortic aneurysmsAbdominal Aortic Aneurysms are the most common type of Aneurysms.

Brain or Cerebral Aneurysm: This is by far the most dangerous of all Aneurysms. The size of a brain aneurysm can be variable. These often form in the blood vessels which are located deep in the brain and are basically asymptomatic. An individual may not even know whether he or she has a brain aneurysm.

Splenic Aneurysm: When an Aneurysm is formed in the spleen then it is called as splenic aneurysm.

What are the Symptoms of Aneurysm?

The symptoms of Aneurysm are variable and depend on the location of the Aneurysm. Aneurysm basically remains asymptomatic until they grow large enough and rupture. Symptoms of a ruptured Aneurysm are:

  • Bleeding
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pain
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness.

How is Aneurysm Diagnosed?

The most common ways to diagnose an Aneurysm is through radiological studies in the form of a CT scan or an MRI. These images will clearly show blockages in the arteries where an Aneurysm is suspected.

How is Aneurysm Treated?

Treatment for Aneurysm depends on the location of the Aneurysm. An area of a vessel in the chest or abdomen where there is an Aneurysm might require a surgical procedure called endovascular stent graft. This is a minimally invasive procedure which repairs the damaged vessels and arteries and reduces the risk of infection, scarring, and other problems. Some of the other more conservative approaches to treating Aneurysm include medications to treat hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. If these things are controlled then the chances of the Aneurysm rupturing is very less.

How Can Aneurysm be Prevented?

Practicing a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet is the key to prevent formation of any type of Aneurysm. Diet which is low in fat and cholesterol is also beneficial. You should exercise regularly or at least walk for 30 minutes daily and stay fit so that there is healthy blood circulation and the chances of plaques developing becomes less and less. Stay away from smoking and alcoholic beverages as much as possible.

What is the Survival Rate for Aneurysm?

An individual with an Aneurysm is safe as long as it does not rupture. The consequence of an Aneurysm rupturing is catastrophic, especially if the Aneurysm is in the brain which can be fatal. A ruptured Aneurysm in the brain can lead to severe mental damage, paralysis or even death. The prognosis for an individual with a ruptured aneurysm depends on several factors to include:

  • Age of the individual
  • The location and extent of the Aneurysm
  • Overall general health of the individual
  • Neurological status after rupture of the Aneurysm.

While some patients are not able to survive an Aneurysm rupture there are cases where individuals have recovered completely even after a rupture of an Aneurysm.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 6, 2018

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