What you need to know about aneurysms

Your blood vessels carry oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to all parts of your body, and return depleted blood back to the heart and lungs. Conditions that affect your arteries, such as aneurysms, can lead to serious consequences. An aneurysm is a weakened area of the arterial wall. It can affect an artery anywhere in your body, but is most common in the arteries that affect the brain and heart. Cardiovascular problems can be frightening, but the world-class cardiac care specialists at Good Samaritan Hospital are committed to giving you the best possible outcome.

Basics of aneurysms
When an area of the arterial wall becomes weaker than usual, it bulges or balloons. Most aneurysms are small, but they can become larger and riskier.

Large aneurysms are more likely to burst or rupture. These ruptured aneurysms require emergency care, as they can lead to life-threatening complications.

Types of aneurysms
Doctors categorize aneurysms according to where they occur in the body.

  • Cerebral aneurysm: Affects the brain
  • Aortic aneurysm: Affects the aorta, which carries blood from the heart
  • Popliteal artery aneurysm: Affects the leg
  • Mesenteric artery aneurysm: Affects the intestine
  • Splenic artery aneurysm: Affects the spleen

Signs and symptoms of aneurysms
Often, the only way a person will know if he or she has an aneurysm is if it ruptures. Intact aneurysms don’t tend to cause problems, but they may be detected on imaging scans. When you watch this featured video, you’ll hear a neurosurgeon explain the differences among MRIs, CT scans and cerebral angiograms for diagnosing aneurysms.

When symptoms do develop, they depend on the size and location of the aneurysm. Brain aneurysms can cause the following:

  • One-sided numbness and weakness
  • Pain behind the eye
  • Vision changes
  • Speech impairment
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures

Stroke results from a ruptured brain aneurysm.

If an aortic aneurysm bursts, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fainting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest or upper back pain
  • Clammy skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate

Treatments for aneurysms
It’s vastly preferable to diagnose an aneurysm before it ruptures . Patients can receive ongoing monitoring to check for changes of the aneurysm. In some cases, they may undergo surgery intended to prevent rupturing.

Ruptured aneurysms always require emergency care. The cardiovascular team will determine which surgical approach is best suited to the patient’s particular condition. Surgical clipping, endovascular coiling and bypass procedures are some examples.

Our reputation for healthcare excellence in emergency care, cardiac care and neurosciences is why our patients choose Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose. At our hospital, you’re never just another patient—you’re an important member of our community who deserves superior, patient-focused care. Speak with a registered nurse at our hospital by calling (888) 724-2362.

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