What is an aneurysm?

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Offline Fred Golombick

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What is an aneurysm?
« on: 06/08/2010 13:30:02 »
FG asked the Naked Scientists:
   My wife sadly passed away at age 49 due to a brain aneurysm. This was very recently. I ask the neurosurgeon to explain what happened. He tried to explain but I was emotional and maybe did not listen properly. They declared my wife brain dead and I switched off the life support system.
Could you please explain to me what happens when the blood vessel bursts ,and what then actually what happens to your brain, body and other organs.
I would really appreciate this explanation and maybe understand the situation better.
I thank you

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 06/08/2010 13:30:02 by _system »


Offline MartinTheK

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What is an aneurysm?
« Reply #1 on: 07/08/2010 19:57:09 »
I am a retired RN. As I don't see anyone else replying, I will give it a try.

The same physical laws apply to an artery as a garden hose. Over time things happen in the hose to make it lose its ability to carry the water pressure in the hose and it will be susceptible to burst if the pressure becomes to great. Before it bursts you may notice that it is bulging where it has become weakened. When that happens in an artery we call it an aneurysm. They are dangerous beasties. If it happens in the brain it is a particularly dangerous beastie.

The important things to know as a layman are ..
(1.) How can an aneurysm be prevented?
(2.) What first aid can save a life in the event of a burst brain aneurysm?

(1.)You must carefully listen to your doctor's advice on proper control of high blood pressure plus the avoidance and/or treatment of diabetes - both of which are murder on arteries in general..also nicotine is arterial poison.
(2.)In the event of (a) sudden loss of speech or difficulty in pronouncing words (b) numbness or difficulty in moving an arm or leg (c.) sudden onset of any sensory or motor loss or (d) a sudden total bitch of a headache --you must do the following: (a.) Call an ambulance (b.) Say your prayers.

With prompt treatment..I mean NOW ... even a relatively severe brain aneurysm can be salvaged

My friend Linda was a 4 pack a day smoking RN who got a total bitch headache which turned out to be a ruptured aneurysm of her vertebral artery (that's a bad, bad place). She called for help promptly and they actually saved her life. She walks with a cane now...and doesn't smoke.

Here endeth the lesson


Offline thedoc

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What is an aneurysm?
« Reply #2 on: 10/12/2010 15:28:39 »
We discussed this question on our  show
We put this question to Dr Suzy Lishman:
Suzy -  Thanks for that question, Fred. I'm sorry to hear about your wife, my condolences. Well, an aneurysm, as you know, is a bulge in the blood vessel wall. Itís a bit like a balloon that blows up and it becomes weak, and so it can burst. When that happens, blood leaves the blood vessel and goes out into the brain. The effect it has on the brain depends a little bit on exactly where the vessel is, in relation to the layers of the brain. If it bursts into the main matter of the brain itself, then it will destroy that brain tissue and that would present with somebody having a stroke for example. It could burst into the surroundings of the brain, the subdural space, and then it can cause an extremely bad headache because blood is very irritant and it can cause pain over the surface of the brain. But when somebody suffers a fatal aneurysm, as it sounds like your wife did, the blood destroys the brain so that it can no longer make the body function and breath, and somebody would stop breathing instantly because of the damage to the brain. So itís like a large stroke that kills bits of the brain that were essential for life.
Click to visit the show page for the podcast in which this question is answered. Alternatively, [chapter podcast=2823 track=10.11.01/Naked_Scientists_Show_10.10.31_7438.mp3] listen to the answer now[/chapter] or [download as MP3]
« Last Edit: 10/12/2010 15:28:39 by _system »



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What is an aneurysm?
« Reply #3 on: 02/11/2010 19:41:30 »
Fred Golombick:

In addition to Martin TheK's excellent post, here is a little more information. The brain is normally kept completely separate from the blood, even though it is completely invested with arteries, veins, and capillaries, by the blood brain barrier. This is because blood contains a variety of products that kill neurons. When blood is loosed into brain tissue neurons are killed and there is swelling that puts pressure on the brain. Also there is pressure from the leaking blood and the distortions of the brain from the pressure compresses and tears the brain. One of the first things that is done for a person with a brain aneurysm is to relieve the pressure, and this has to be done very quickly.

Your story made me feel sad. Steve