Smoking, High Blood Pressure Increase Risk of Brain Aneurysm

by Jodee on February 20, 2010

A brain aneurysm occurs when a blood vessel becomes weak and starts to bulge out like a balloon. As the bulge gets larger, the likelihood it will burst increases. If this happens, the individual will have bleeding into his or her brain.

Between three and six percent of the population in the United States has a brain aneurysm. In most cases the aneurysms are small, and don’t present a big threat of rupturing. The likelihood of an aneurysm bursting is approximately one percent. Of those people who experience a ruptured brain aneurysm, 40 percent die within 30 days after the incident.

An aneurysm is not something that a person is born with. Instead, this health condition is something that happens over a person’s lifetime. There is a genetic factor at work, too, when it comes to risk factors for a brain aneurysm. The likelihood of having an aneurysm increases by up to 20 percent if a close relative also has this condition.

Other Risk Factors for Brain Aneurysm

  • Cigarette Smoking

Smoking increases the likelihood of an aneurysm rupturing tenfold over the risk for a nonsmoker. With every cigarette smoked the risk of a rupture increases.

  • High Blood Pressure

Increased pressure on the blood vessels also increases the risk of a ruptured aneurysm.

  • Drinking Alcohol

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. A high level of alcohol consumption is a risk factor for a ruptured aneurysm. Binge drinking makes it more likely that a person will experience bleeding between the brain and the thin membrane that covers it, which is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage.brain scan imaging photo

Symptoms of a Ruptured Brain Aneurysm

Many people are unaware that they have a brain aneurysm until it ruptures. A severe headache may indicate this condition. Nausea, vomiting, and a stiff neck may also indicate a ruptured aneurysm. Some people experience sensitivity to light, have difficulty seeing or experience pain behind the eye.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to be evaluated by a doctor immediately. The headache may be a migraine or may even be a sign of a stroke. Getting medical attention promptly means that appropriate treatment can be given.

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