Brain Aneurysm

Brain Aneurysm | Vascular Center of Southern California

In the United States, approximately 6.5 million people (or roughly one in every 50 individuals) will have a brain aneurysm.

A brain aneurysm is a weakening of a blood vessel wall that causes a ballooning spot or bulge. While most brain aneurysms do not cause any symptoms or problems, there is a chance of rupture that could lead to a hemorrhagic stroke. For this reason, brain aneurysms may be treated through medication, surgical procedures, or both. 

Dr. M. Asif Taqi, a leading stroke prevention specialist in Southern California, is someone you will want on your team if you’ve been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. As a triple-board certified neuro interventionist, he has extensive training and advanced expertise in treating brain aneurysms. Dr. Taqi further sets himself apart in the field because of his incredible ability to connect with his patients.

Because of his own experiences, he has a first-hand understanding of the difficulties that arise when you or a loved one are diagnosed with a challenging neurovascular diagnosis, such as a brain aneurysm. He is compassionate and caring, and his superior technical skills have earned him a spot among California’s top doctors. Dr. Taqi always takes time with his patients to ensure their understanding and comfort. He will make sure to answer any questions and address any concerns that you have. Contact us today to arrange your consultation for Brain Aneurysm treatment in Thousand Oaks, West Hills, or LA County.

What is a Brain Aneurysm?

Your brain requires a constant supply of freshly oxygenated blood to maintain proper function. Because of its high demand for oxygen and nutrients, your brain has a highly-developed system of arteries that continuously bring it blood. The brain’s health relies on these arteries functioning properly.

A brain aneurysm occurs when there is damage or weakening of a spot in an artery wall, causing it to balloon out. This can create a berry-like bulge in the blood vessel that can weaken and grow over time. Brain aneurysms are most likely to develop at branch points or junctions in the arteries. Nearly 20% of patients who have one brain aneurysm are at risk for more.

Risk Factors of a Brain Aneurysm

Not everyone is at equal risk for developing a brain aneurysm. For instance, women are more likely than men to have them. There is also a strong genetic component, as people with close relatives that have had a brain aneurysm are more likely to develop one themselves.

Fortunately, some of the most substantial risk factors for brain aneurysm are controllable – smoking, use of cocaine, and excessive alcohol intake contribute to a much higher risk for developing a brain aneurysm. 

They are also most common in individuals with high blood pressure, and your likelihood of developing a brain aneurysm increases with age. Finally, brain aneurysms are sometimes associated with other conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, fibromuscular dysplasia, arteriovenous malformation (AVM), infection, and head trauma.

Symptoms of a Brain Aneurysm

Brain aneurysms develop silently at first, and some people can live for years or decades with an aneurysm and never discover it. Doctors find most small brain aneurysms accidentally, usually when they are running tests for other conditions.

If the brain aneurysm grows, it can press on cells in the brain and eventually cause symptoms to appear, such as headaches, vision problems, drooping eyelids, unilateral eye pain, weakness, or numbness. Dr. Taqi urges his patients to reach out immediately if they experience any of these symptoms.

Rupture of a Brain Aneurysm

The most considerable risk of a brain aneurysm is the possibility that it will burst or rupture.  This occurs in about 30,000 people in the US each year – that’s one every 18 minutes.

Rupture of a brain aneurysm causes sudden bleeding into the area surrounding the blood vessel and can lead to a type of stroke known as a hemorrhagic stroke.  When this occurs, the pressure inside the brain can increase, which means that the downstream part of the brain may not receive the blood supply it needs to continue to function correctly.

The sooner that a ruptured brain aneurysm is treated, the higher the likelihood of survival and fewer long-term complications, so it is essential to seek care immediately if you notice these symptoms.

Several symptoms occur during the rupture of a brain aneurysm, and if you have any of these, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Symptoms include:

  • Sudden severe headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Vision disturbances, including blurred or double vision
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Dilated pupil
  • Weakness or numbness

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How is a Brain Aneurysm Treated?

Treatment for a brain aneurysm depends on many factors, including its location, shape, and size, and whether or not it has ruptured. Your doctor will also consider your personal risk factors, age, medical conditions, and overall health when making recommendations about treatment. Some brain aneurysms are more likely to rupture than others, and the likelihood of rupture is also a factor in whether and how your doctor decides to treat your aneurysm.

Treatment for a brain aneurysm ranges from observation to surgical interventions.  For some patients, conventional imaging combined with control of any risk factors, such as medications to lower blood pressure, will suffice. Other patients may have endovascular surgery, such as placement of a stent, coil, or flow diverter, to support the affected blood vessel and reduce the risk of rupture. In other cases, you may be best served by a brain surgery to clip the aneurysm. A highly qualified and experienced neurosurgeon like Dr. Taqi can discuss your treatment options and help you to decide what is right for you and your family.

Dr. Taqi is an expert in aneurysm treatment, he has been at the forefront of implementing new technologies to be used in treating brain aneurysms.  He has written several scientific papers and has been a principal investigator for many clinical trials pertaining to a brain aneurysm.

Brain Aneurysm FAQs

The first step you should take to prepare for your consultation with Dr. Taqi is to request copies of your medical records, including any imaging studies you’ve had done. You should be able to obtain your images in DVD format for Dr. Taqi’s review. He will also want to know what medications, over the counter drugs, and supplements you are taking, along with the frequency and dosage. It can be very helpful to bring a comprehensive list of these. Finally, Dr. Taqi is always happy to answer your questions and address your concerns, so he suggests that you write down questions you have as they arise. Making these preparations will help you and Dr. Taqi to get the most out of your consultation.

A brain aneurysm is generally diagnosed through non-invasive brain imaging. Tests that may detect a brain aneurysm include CT scans, CAT, MRI, and MRA.

Yes, if you have a brain aneurysm, you are at risk for hemorrhagic stroke that could occur as a result of your aneurysm bursting. The risk of rupture depends on your aneurysm’s size, shape, and location, as well as what risk factors and medical conditions you have.

Most brain aneurysms are not hereditary, but there is an increased likelihood that you could have a brain aneurysm if someone in your close family does. If two or more first-degree relatives are affected, this is called a familial aneurysm. First-degree relatives in a family with this condition are generally recommended to get regular imaging studies for early detection and stroke prevention.

If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, or if you want to learn more about the preventative measures that you can take, seek care from Southern California’s leading stroke prevention specialist and experienced neurosurgeon, Dr. M. Asif Taqi. Contact us or call 805.242.4884 to schedule your appointment today.