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Nonruptured Cerebral Aneurysm
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What is a cerebral aneurysm?
A cerebral aneurysm is a bulging or weak area in an artery that brings blood to your brain. The area fills with blood and expands. The aneurysm can expand so much that blood bursts through the artery. This is a hemorrhagic stroke. An aneurysm that has not burst can be managed or treated to prevent it from rupturing. An aneurysm can happen anywhere in your brain. They most commonly form between the brain and the base of the skull.
What are the warning signs of a stroke?
The words BE FAST can help you remember and recognize warning signs of a stroke:
- B = Balance: Sudden loss of balance
- E = Eyes: Loss of vision in one or both eyes
- F = Face: Face droops on one side
- A = Arms: Arm drops when both arms are raised
- S = Speech: Speech is slurred or sounds different
- T = Time: Time to get help immediately
What increases my risk for a cerebral aneurysm?
- An abnormally shaped artery wall
- High blood pressure
- Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or a vascular disease
- A head injury
- Cigarettes or illegal drugs
- A family history of brain aneurysms
- Being a woman or taking birth control pills
- A connective tissue disorder, polycystic kidney disease, or a circulatory disorder
- Elderly age
- An infection or tumor
What are the signs and symptoms of a nonruptured cerebral aneurysm?
Cerebral aneurysms usually have no signs or symptoms if they have not ruptured. A large nonruptured aneurysm can press on nerves and cause symptoms. The following symptoms may mean the aneurysm is at risk of rupturing:
- A headache in one area
- Pain above and behind one eye
- Dilated pupil in one eye
- Vision changes or double vision
- Numb or weak feeling in your face, or not being able to move one side of your face
- Eyelid drooping
- Nausea or vomiting
How is a nonruptured cerebral aneurysm diagnosed?
A nonruptured aneurysm is usually found during tests for another condition. Your healthcare provider may ask about your symptoms and if you have a family history of aneurysms. If you have 2 or more family members with aneurysms, you should be tested. Tell your provider about all medicines you take, including blood thinners.
- An MRI may be used to take pictures of weak or bulging areas in blood vessels. The pictures may show the size and location of the aneurysm. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious damage. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
- A computed tomography angiography (CTA) scan may be used to take detailed pictures of the aneurysm.
- An angiogram is an x-ray picture of the blood vessels. Contrast liquid is used to help the blood vessels show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
How is a nonruptured cerebral aneurysm treated?
- An aneurysm that has not ruptured may not need to be treated. Your healthcare provider may check it regularly. He or she may order tests that check the size of your aneurysm. Treatment may be used to prevent a rupture if the aneurysm becomes large or you have symptoms. You may also need treatment if you have a family history of ruptured aneurysms.
- The type of treatment depends on the size and location of the aneurysm. Your provider may fill the aneurysm with coils or other devices. He or she may move blood flow away from the aneurysm. You may need surgery to have a small metal clip placed around the base of the aneurysm. The clip stays in place permanently to keep blood out of the aneurysm.
What can I do to manage a nonruptured cerebral aneurysm?
A cerebral aneurysm cannot be prevented, but the following can help you lower the risk that it will rupture:
- Control high blood pressure. Keep your blood pressure at the level your healthcare provider recommends. If you are a woman, ask your healthcare provider if birth control pills are safe for you. Birth control pills can also increase blood pressure.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your blood pressure. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
- Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Alcohol and illegal drugs such as cocaine can increase your blood pressure. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, beans, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy products. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can help you create a meal plan to help control high blood pressure or cholesterol. You may also need to limit sodium (salt).
- Exercise as directed. Exercise can help control your blood pressure and cholesterol level. Ask your healthcare provider how much exercise you need each day and which exercises are best for you.
Have someone call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
- You lose consciousness or have a seizure.
When should I seek immediate care?
- You have a stiff neck or trouble walking.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You have blurred or double vision, or you are sensitive to light.
- You suddenly feel weak.
When should I call my doctor?
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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