An aneurysm is a potentially life-threatening condition in which there is an abnormal swelling and ballooning of an artery, which can rupture and result in internal bleeding. Aneurysm is a general term that encompasses a variety of types, including aortic aneurysm and brain aneurysm. Aneurysms can occur in any artery in the body, but the most common site is in the aorta (aortic aneurysm), followed by the arteries of the brain (brain aneurysm).
An aneurysm develops when there is damage or a weakening of the wall of an artery. This weakened area can balloon out, disrupt normal blood flow, and rupture due to the force of blood flowing through the artery.
This process leads to symptoms and complications that vary depending on the specific type of aneurysm. They can include chest pain, back pain, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, change in consciousness, and headache. Many people have no symptoms, especially when aneurysm is small or in an early stage and has not ruptured. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of aneurysm.
When certain aneurysms rupture, they cause internal arterial hemorrhage and serious, potentially life-threatening complications, such as hypotension, shock, stroke, coma and death.
Aneurysms have a variety of causes. These include a defect in the artery wall that makes the artery wall thinner and weaker than normal. Defects in artery walls can run in families and may have a genetic component. They often form in the arteries of the brain.
Another cause of an aneurysm is inflammation of the artery, which also causes weakening of the artery wall. Inflammation can be the result of such conditions as endocarditis, syphilis, or arteritis.
Damage to artery walls can also cause aneurysms. Damage can be the result of such conditions as atherosclerosis and hypertension.
When a person has symptoms of an aneurysm, making a diagnosis begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Diagnosis also includes performing imaging tests, such as X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scan.
Because people with aneurysms frequently have no symptoms, they are often found incidentally on imaging tests that are performed for other conditions, such as a chest X-ray taken for pneumonia.
A diagnosis can also be delayed because of a lack of symptoms. A misdiagnosis is possible, because when the symptoms do occur, they can mimic the symptoms of other conditions, such as a myocardial infarction. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of aneurysm.
Treatment of an aneurysm varies depending on the size, location, and type of aneurysm. The prognosis is good for people who have prompt treatment of an aneurysm. If an aneurysm is not treated until after it ruptures, serious life-threatening complications, such as hypovolemic shock, stroke, coma, and death are far more likely to occur. The fatality rate of ruptured brain aneurysm, or ruptured aortic aneurysm is about 50 percent.
For some types of aneurysms that are not large or do not threaten health, a "watch and wait" approach might be taken. Brain aneurysms or aortic aneurysms that are at risk for rupturing are generally treated with surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of aneurysm. ...more »
Aneurysm: Dangerous ballooning of a weakened area of an artery.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Aneurysm is available below.
The symptoms of an aneurysm can mimic other conditions, such as myocardial infarction or migraine headache. People with an aneurysm often have no symptoms, and when they do, symptoms can run the gamut from mild to severe. They also vary between individuals and the specific types of aneurysm, such as aortic aneurysm and brain aneurysm.
Symptoms of ...more symptoms »
Because some types of aneurysms can be life-threatening, prompt diagnosis and treatment of the condition is key to maintaining health and preserving life. The fatality rate of ruptured brain aneurysm, or ruptured aortic aneurysm is about 50 percent.
Ideally, aneurysms should be treated before they rupture and cause serious life-threatening ...more treatments »
A diagnosis of aneurysm may missed because its symptoms may be mistaken for symptoms of such conditions as myocardial infarction or migraine headache. For people with a prior diagnosis of migraine headache, it can be easy to assume that a severe headache is simply a migraine. This can result in a delay in seeking medical care and a ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Aneurysm
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Definitions of Aneurysm:
Protruding sac in the wall of a vein, artery, or heart, frequently caused by microbial infection; may present as pain, pressure on nearby organs, or cardiac weakening.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
A cardiovascular disease characterized by a sac-like widening of an artery resulting from weakening of the artery wall
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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