What are the Signs of a Ruptured Brain Aneurysm?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Aneurysms that develop in blood vessels in the brain can be major causes for concern. When the walls of an artery become weak, blood flow through the area causes them to bulge outward. As long as the walls hold their ballooned structure, an aneurysm is unlikely to cause noticeable physical symptoms. When pressure becomes too high, however, a rupture can occur and lead to life-threatening complications. Possible signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm include an immediate, severe headache, extreme nausea, and vision disturbances. If emergency care is not sought for a person with a ruptured brain aneurysm, seizure, stroke, or sudden death can occur.

In most cases, major rupture does not occur all at once. An aneurysm may first begin to leak relatively small amounts of blood into surrounding brain tissue and the area between the brain and the skull. Even minor hemorrhaging can cause significant symptoms. Irritation to nerve tissue can cause drooping in one or both eyelids, dilated pupils, and numbness or weakness on one side of the face.

Additional symptoms occur when more blood is lost through a ruptured brain aneurysm. Pressure buildup leads to a throbbing migraine headache, nausea, vomiting, and painful stiffness in the neck and shoulders. A person may have extremely blurred or spotty vision, double vision, or extreme light sensitivity. Facial weakness or paralysis can worsen as hemorrhaging continues.


A ruptured brain aneurysm that leaks a massive amount of blood can cause potentially fatal symptoms. The sudden migraine headache can be entirely debilitating, preventing the sufferer from sitting upright or communicating with others. He or she may experience breathing difficulties, lose consciousness, and possibly have a seizure. A stroke is likely to occur without immediate treatment, and the person can slip into a coma or suffer permanent brain damage.

It is important to call an ambulance whenever a person shows any possible signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm. In the emergency room, the patient is immediately given anesthesia and hooked up to a breathing machine and monitoring devices. A surgeon can then clip the blood vessel and tie it off to prevent further hemorrhaging. An artificial block may be inserted into the artery to induce blood clotting. Anti-seizure medications and blood pressure-elevating drugs are administered as necessary.

Recovery after a ruptured brain aneurysm depends on several factors, and many patients need to remain in the hospital for several days or weeks so doctors can continue treating symptoms and monitor healing of damaged brain tissue. Months of rehabilitation therapy may be needed to help patients gain strength, mental acuity, and speech. People who are able to recover typically need to attend regular checkups and take medications for the rest of their lives to make sure that problems do not recur.


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