An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge or ballooning in the wall of a blood vessel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6 million people are living with unruptured brain aneurysms. Dr. Bernard Bendok, a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon, says a ruptured aneurysm can be life-threatening.
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"A proportion of these patients will go on to have a rupture. And the challenge with rupture is that it's unpredictable," Dr. Bendok says.
A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency because it can cause bleeding in the brain.
"The typical presentation is somebody who has the worst headache of their life," Dr. Bendok says.
Fast treatment is essential. It includes open surgery or less-invasive options, such as sealing the ruptured artery from within the blood vessel with metal coils and/or stents.
Dr. Bendok says 1 to 2 percent of the population have aneurysms, and only a small percentage of that group will experience a rupture.
People who have a family history of aneurysms, have polycystic kidney disease, connective tissue disease, and people who smoke are at increased risk of rupture, and should consider screening.
If a rupture happens, fast treatment can save lives.