Medical authorities define an aneurysm as the abnormal enlargement of an artery caused by a weakness in the arterial wall. This serious condition affects women over age 50. Read this article to learn how you can detect and prevent aneurysms.
Aneurysms: What You Should Know
The exact cause of aneurysms is not yet known. Some people suffer from them at birth, while others not until late in life. The most common regions for an aneurysm to strike are the major artery coming from the heart (the aorta), behind the knee (popliteal artery), the brain, intestine (mesenteric artery) and spleen (spleenic artery). The latter is more common among pregnant women.
The symptoms of an aneurysm depend on where it is located. If the aneurysm is near the surface of the body, it will cause pain, pressure and a bump. When the aneurysms develop in internal areas like the brain, they often don’t cause any symptoms.
A cerebral aneurysm can expand without bursting and put pressure on the surrounding nerves, causing symptoms like:
- Double vision
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Loss of balance
- Stiff neck
- Inability to communicate or understand others speaking
- Sensitivity to light
If the aneurysm bursts, it can cause low blood pressure, pain, dizziness and rapid heartbeat. The risk of death is much higher if this occurs.
Approximately 5% of the population develops a cerebral aneurysm and the risk is greater in those with a family history or circulation problems.
How to Detect an Aneurysm
A cerebral aneurysm is the most dangerous. If the rupture is caught early enough, death can be avoided. This condition is often brought on by unhealthy habits and other disease.
Immediate action will ensure survival. The estimated time to act is half an hour. You need to act quickly because only 40% of aneurysms are detected in time, the rest of the cases result in death.
Since most people with this affliction don’t show symptoms, and abnormalities are only discovered during the course of routine medical exams, it can be unclear how to deal with an attack. Before it ruptures, an aneurysm causes what is known as a sentinel headache; a severe, chronic headache that doesn’t respond to treatment with medication.
If the pain continues, you should see your doctor. This is serious and something to be concerned about. The aneurysm may have ruptured, causing a hemorrhage between the brain and the thin outer tissue that protects the central nervous system. The accompanying headache is very sharp and can prevent you from opening your eyes. It’s also associated with nausea, dizziness, vomiting, loss of sensation on one side of the body, double vision, weakness and loss of consciousness.
Since less than half of aneurysm patients survive and a large percentage of those that do are left with neurological deficits, you should seek immediate medical attention when the headache is unbearable and is not caused by an external injury, like a blow, fall, or accident.
How to Prevent an Aneurysm
Prevention is the best way to avoid an aneurysm. For that:
See your doctor
An annual checkup, complete with tests relevant to your age and state of health, are important to detect signs of any abnormalities. Your doctor should also be familiar with your family history. If someone close to you has suffered an aneurysm, please tell your doctor.
A variety of tests can be performed to rule out any anomalys. Some of the tests available today include computed tomography (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid and angiography.
Lead a healthier lifestyle
Some of the best things you can do to limit your risk of an aneurysm are:
- Quit smoking.
- Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Follow a healthy, balanced diet.
- Exercise two or three times a week
- Avoid being overweight
- Keep your cholesterol in check and watch your blood pressure.
Control Your Stress Levels
If you reduce the amount of anxiety and stress in your life, you’ll decrease your likelihood of developing an aneurysm. Do your best to calm down, avoid things that make you feel bad, try to solve problems before they become more serious, etc. It’s also good to take a vacation when appropriate and rest more.
Don’t forget to sleep at least 6-8 hours each night; it’s good for your health. Make a list of things you enjoy and do them. Here are some suggestions:
- Take a walk in the park.
- Play with your kids.
- Take care of the plants in your garden.
- Play chess.
- Take a yoga or pilates class.
- Learn to play an instrument.
Meditation can also help you reduce stress and help you avoid an aneurysm.