What causes an aneurysm?

Aneurysms are caused by weakness in the wall of a cerebral artery or vein, aortic artery, or peripheral artery. The disorder may result from defects present at birth (congenital), from underlying conditions such as hypertensive vascular disease and atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries), or from previous trauma to the area of the aneurysm.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and cigarette smoking may raise the risk of certain types of aneurysms. High blood pressure and smoking are known to contribute to the formation of abdominal aortic aneurysms. Atherosclerotic disease (cholesterol buildup in arteries) may also lead to the formation of some aneurysms. Pregnancy is often associated with the development and rupture of splenic artery aneurysms.

Inherited conditions that affect the connective tissues of the body, such as Marfan’s syndrome, also increase your risk of developing certain types of aneurysms.

What are the risk factors for an aneurysm?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing an aneurysm. Not all people with risk factors will get an aneurysm. Risk factors for aneurysm include:

  • Advanced age
  • Atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque on the walls of the coronary arteries; atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis)
  • Caucasian race
  • Estrogen deficiency from menopause
  • Family history
  • Genetic diseases of connective tissue, such as Marfan’s syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • Male gender
  • Pre-existing blood vessel malformations
  • Smoking or other tobacco use

Reducing your risk of aneurysm

You may be able to lower your risk of an aneurysm by:

  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level
  • Maintaining normal blood pressure
  • Reducing the amount of cholesterol and fat in your diet
  • Quitting smoking and other tobacco use

INTRODUCTION

What is an aneurysm?

An aneurysm is an abnormal widening or ballooning of an artery due to weakness in the wall of the blood vessel. Aneurysms are dangerous because they may burst, spilling blood in the area surrounding the blood vessel. The disease can occur in the aorta, in a blood vessel in the brain, or in a peripheral blood vessel.

An aneurysm can occur in any artery in the body but commonly occu... Read more about aneurysmintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of an aneurysm?

Aneurysms can develop slowly over many years. Many people have no symptoms, while others may experience a number of symptoms that vary in intensity among individuals depending on the location, rate of growth, and size of the aneurysm.

Common symptoms of an intracranial aneurysm

Aneurysms typically do not produce symptoms. However, if an intracranial aneurysm ruptures, any o... Read more about aneurysmsymptoms

TREATMENTS

How is an aneurysm treated?

Treatment for aneurysms begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have an aneurysm, your health care provider will ask you to undergo several diagnostic tests.

Treatment of an aneurysm depends on the size, location, and type of aneurysm. An expanding or enlarging aneurysm in the aorta often requires emergency treatment, and surgery is gen... Read more about aneurysmtreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves