Approximately 1 in every 15 people living in the United States will develop an aneurysm at some point in their lives. The scariest part about this fact is that, in many cases, these aneurysms go unnoticed. Although many people experience aneurysms without any symptoms or side effects, these aneurysms can rupture, releasing blood into the skull which can cause a stroke, brain damage and even death.
Treatment for brain aneurysms is very difficult, and often involves a risky procedure that itself can result in hemorrhaging. However, there are ways to help reduce our risk of their occurrences, which is generally considered to be the best way to prevent suffering from an aneurysm.
What Is A Brain Aneurysm?
Before we go into how to prevent aneurysms, first we should learn exactly what they are and who is most at risk.
A brain aneurysm, also called an intracranial aneurysm or a cerebral aneurysm, is a potentially life threatening condition. It occurs when a weak area in your brain’s arterial wall swells and fills with blood. If the inflamed area bursts, it will cause bleeding in the brain which is referred to as subarachnoid hemorrhaging. This bleeding can lead to brain damage, stroke and even death. There are two main types of brain aneurysms: true and false. When a false aneurysm occurs, a cavity is becomes lined with blood forming a clot in the brain. There are three main types of true brain aneurysms: saccular, fusiform and dissecting, with saccular being the most common.
80% to 90% of brain aneurysms are reported to be saccular. This type of aneurysm forms a bulge on only one side of the artery, which causes it to look similar to a berry or a “sac”.
Fusiform aneurysms are similar to saccular aneurysms, except the artery bulges all the way around and is the least common among the three types. Slightly different than the first two types of true aneurysms, dissection occurs when there is a tear in the arterial lining. This type of aneurysm can leak blood, cause bulging, or even block the artery entirely.
Who is at risk?
There are some environmental factors that can promote the development of an aneurysm, but for the most part, brain aneurysms are hereditary.
The following factors can increase your risk of aneurysm:
Gender: Women are more likely to develop brain aneurysms
Race: African Americans are more likely than Caucasians to develop aneurysms
High Blood Pressure: The risk of developing an aneurysm is greater in people who experience high blood pressure.
You are also at risk if you:
- abuse drugs
- smoke cigarettes
- have congenital problems that affect the arterial walls
- have had tumors
- have had brain injuries
- have had severe infections of the blood or brain
- have high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol
What Are the Symptoms of Brain Aneurysms?
Aneurysms are usually small in size and do not cause any symptoms until they are very large or have already ruptured. Occasionally, large unruptured aneurysms can press on the brain or the nerve endings and might produce numerous neurological symptoms. Large or ruptured aneurysms require immediate medical care and can cause the following symptoms:
- Mild or severe pain or headache above or behind the eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Drooping eyelids
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred or double vision
- Numbness in one or both sides of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Change in awareness and mental state
- Trouble walking or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
Preventing Brain Aneurysms
The best way to prevent an aneurysm is by either lowering your blood pressure if you have high blood pressure or maintaining your blood pressure if you have a healthy one. You can do both of these things by simply adding a few beneficial minerals to your diet.
During an International Study of Macro- and Micro-Nutrients and Blood Pressure, a total of 4680 patients, a mix of men and women aged 40 to 59, were tested to see the effects that different kinds of nutrients had on blood pressure. Researchers found that the individuals whose diets were high in magnesium, calcium and especially phosphorous showed the greatest reduction in blood pressure.
Here is the recipe for a delicious smoothie that will provide you with an abundance of these three minerals to help you lower your blood pressure.
Blood Pressure-Lowering Smoothie
- One full banana (Excellent source of phosphorous)
- Handful of spinach (Excellent source of magnesium, good source of calcium)
- Two tablespoons of yogurt (Excellent source of calcium, excellent source of phosphorous)
- One cup of milk (Excellent source of calcium, excellent source of phosphorous)
Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth! Drink this smoothie up to once every day to ensure that you have a healthy blood pressure.
Other lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure include:
- Quitting smoking (if you are a smoker)
- Eating a diet that is low in trans fats, sodium, sugar and cholesterol
- Eating lean meats, fish, poultry and beans
- Getting daily physical activity
- Making sure to learn and recognize your stress triggers (taking part in relaxation and healthy hobbies can be a great way to manage your stress levels)
Even if you follow all of the above instructions, preventing aneurysms might not be possible. Consequently, the number one way to lower your risk of arterial ruptures is to get screened. Talk to your doctor about routine screening and take all preventative measures.