Six Myths and Facts About Brain Aneurysms

Brain aneurysms are the stuff of legend, with stories of people who are fine one moment and in excruciating, life-threatening pain the next. While there may be some truth to this, the larger truth behind a brain aneurysm is, thankfully, far less dramatic.


Here at Acadiana Neurosurgery, Dr. Jason Cormier have extensive experience helping their patients manage and treat their brain aneurysms, with the goal of avoiding the more serious complications.


In order to help you better understand what a brain aneurysm is, and what it is not, we’ve pulled together the following list of six myths and facts about this brain condition.


1. An aneurysm is a ticking time bomb

While a brain aneurysm does present a potential problem, it’s far from a foregone conclusion. In fact, the phrase, “having an aneurysm,” implies that all aneurysms burst, and that is simply not the case.


An aneurysm is a small weak spot in a blood vessel in your brain, usually near the base of your brain, that bulges out due to the pressure of your blood pumping through. Some reports suggest that six million people in the United States have an aneurysm, and most of them go through their entire lives unaware of the condition. Only in rare cases, about 1% per year, does the pressure build up, causing the aneurysm to leak or burst, which is when the condition becomes very serious, and potentially fatal.

2. It strikes out of nowhere

Technically, a brain aneurysm develops over time, though in some cases you may be born with poorly-formed blood vessels. In either case, an aneurysm, especially one that is near to bursting, is typically long in the making.


3. A ruptured aneurysm is always fatal

The good news is that a full 60% of those who experience a rupture survive. The bad news is that two thirds of those who survive a rupture are left with varying degrees of permanent neurological impairment. We say varying degrees, because it depends upon the extent and location of the ruptured aneurysm.


4. There’s no warning

While there are some cases when a brain aneurysm ruptures and quickly leads to death, these are very rare occurrences. Of the few who experience a ruptured brain aneurysm, there are telltale symptoms beforehand that indicate that your blood vessel is in trouble. These symptoms include a sudden and severe headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, loss of balance, and impaired vision.


Some people experience these symptoms for days, or even weeks, but we urge you to seek medical attention at the first sign of these symptoms. While uncommon, these symptoms can also indicate a large aneurysm that hasn’t ruptured.


5. Brain aneurysms only affect women

While not completely true, women are three times more likely than men to have a brain aneurysm. Medical researchers don’t fully understand why this is so, but it may have something to do with estrogen levels, especially when they begin to drop once women reach their 40s.


6. There’s no cure for an aneurysm

Since most aneurysms go undetected, most don’t require a “cure.” If, however, you do have an aneurysm that has ruptured, we have several ways to deal with the problem, including surgical clipping, endovascular coiling, and flow diverters. How we approach the problem largely depends upon the size, progression, and location of the rupture. Our main goal in these cases is to prevent complications from developing and to manage the symptoms.


When it comes to brain aneurysms, there’s a fair amount of misinformation out there. While an aneurysm has the potential to be a serious problem, these cases are not the norm. As with every aspect of your health, if you suspect something is wrong, early medical intervention is your best defense against the likely, and the unlikely.


And that’s where we can help. As trained neurologists, we can spot issues that warrant further investigation, giving you peace of mind. If you have more questions about brain aneurysms, we invite you to call our office in Lafayette, Louisiana, or schedule a consultation using the online booking tool on this website.

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