What Is a Brain Aneurysm?

What Is a Brain Aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in the wall of a brain artery. If this bulge tears and bleeds, nearby cells may be damaged. A brain aneurysm can occur in an artery wall that is weak or has a defect. Aneurysm is often associated with hardening of the arteries. High blood pressure, heredity, smoking, and a head injury are also risk factors.

Healthcare provider talking to family in hospital waiting room.


In most cases, a brain aneurysm has no symptoms until it bleeds or tears. Symptoms of bleeding or tearing include:

  • Severe headache, nausea, and vomiting

  • Neck stiffness

  • Brief blackout

  • Confusion or sluggishness

  • Vision or speech problems

  • Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body

  • Clumsiness

  • Jerking movements

Prompt Treatment Can Save a Life

A brain aneurysm needs to be treated as soon as possible. Doing so may save a patient’s life. If the aneurysm has torn and bled, treatment may not reverse the resulting damage. But surgery may help prevent more bleeding. Blood trapped in and around the brain may also be removed.

Note to Family and Friends

Your loved one’s healthcare team will answer any questions you have. After special tests are done and the cause is known, specialists are called. Treatment will begin right away. The patient may be too ill to know what’s going on. You may need to decide on his or her treatment. Choose a few family members to talk to the healthcare team. These family members can share what they learn with others. Doing this will make it simpler to keep everyone informed.