What are the Most Common Causes of Brain Aneurysm?

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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Some of the causes of brain aneurysm include genetics, certain medical conditions, high blood pressure, trauma, sepsis and alcohol. Smoking is also a risk factor for an aneurysm. A few of the causes of brain aneurysm can be avoided and others treated to lessen the risk of an aneurysm.

A brain aneurysm is something that develops over a person’s life; it is not present when a person is born. It occurs when the lining of a person's arteries become worn down and a section begins to bulge because of a weak blood vessel wall. Many people have a brain aneurysm, and most remain unaware that the brain aneurysm exists unless it ruptures. A ruptured brain aneurysm comes with a high risk of death; survivors face the possibility of severe brain damage.

The first symptom of a brain aneurysm rupture is usually an intense headache. About half of victims will experience this up to two weeks before the rupture occurs. Other symptoms of a rupture may include vomiting, sensitivity to light, seizures, nausea or eye problems. The pain can be located anywhere on the head, depending on the location of the brain aneurysm.


Genetics is thought to be one of the biggest causes of brain aneurysm. Studies have shown that people who have a relative with a brain aneurysm are much more likely to have one themselves. The risk increases even more if the relative is a sibling. Certain inherited medical conditions also leave a person at risk for aneurysm of the brain. Some of these conditions include polycystic kidney disease, Marfan syndrome and neurofibromatosis.

Smoking, alcohol consumption and high blood pressure are all known causes of brain aneurysm. These are considered environmental factors. An aneurysm caused by drinking and smoking can be prevented by avoiding cigarettes and alcohol. High blood pressure can be managed with medication and certain relaxation techniques. Managing the environmental factors may help to reduce the chance of them becoming causes of brain aneurysm.

A brain aneurysm also can develop after a person’s face or head has experienced some kind of trauma. This occurs because of tearing in the wall of an artery. The aneurysm often is not detected until months after the trauma occurs.

Sepsis is another cause of brain aneurysm. This condition usually occurs when a heart valve or pulmonary vein becomes infected. It causes the cells in the walls of the valves or veins to die, thus weakening the walls and increasing the chances of an aneurysm.


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