Alarming Symptoms Of A Stroke And A Brain Aneurysm, And How To Tell The Difference Between These Conditions

Date April 4, 2018

Do you know the difference between a stroke and an aneurysm? Those who don't work in healthcare and those who have never had either of the two conditions are usually unaware of the differences between them. Stroke and brain aneurysm are related, as both have to do with the blood flow in the brain.

Actually, if brain aneurysm ruptures, it leads to a type of stroke called hemorrhagic stroke. Another thing they have in common is that both can be life-threatening. But they are two separate problems which produce different symptoms and require different treatment.

READ ALSO: How To Tell The Difference Between A Regular Headache And Ruptured Brain Aneurysm

What's a brain aneurysm and what are its symptoms?

Brain aneurysm develops when a weakened area in the wall of a brain artery distends, and a blood-filled bulge forms. That bulge is called an aneurysm.

An aneurysm rarely causes major trouble, unless it grows too large and/or ruptures. A large but unruptured brain aneurysm can cause the following symptoms:

  • visual disturbances;
  • headaches;
  • pain around the eye;
  • limited eye movement;
  • loss of balance;
  • trouble thinking;
  • numbness or weakness that affects one side of the face.

If such an aneurysm is detected, the most common treatment option is surgery.

A ruptured brain aneurysm causes symptoms that appear suddenly. One of the hallmark symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm is a sudden and intense headache that can be described as "the worst headache in your life." It is usually accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • nausea and vomiting;
  • neck stiffness and pain;
  • visual disturbances;
  • sensitivity to light;
  • confusion and drowsiness;
  • weakness and numbness, usually on one side of the body;
  • dilated pupils;
  • seizures;
  • loss of consciousness.

READ ALSO: Brain Tumor: 13 Warning Signs And Symptoms

What is a stroke and what are its symptoms?

When the blood flow in the brain is interrupted, a stroke occurs. Ischemic stroke occurs when the blood flow in the brain is obstructed by a blood clot or narrowing of an artery. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs if there is a rupture in one of the vessels that supply the brain with blood. About 4 in 5 strokes are ischemic, and 1 in 5 are hemorrhagic.

How does a stroke relate to an aneurysm? One of the causes of hemorrhagic strokes is a ruptured aneurysm.

There's a handy acronym - FAST - to help you memorize the symptoms of a stroke:

  • Face – drooping on one side, a person may be unable to smile;
  • Arms – a person can’t raise his or her arms and keep them up;
  • Speech – someone who’s having a stroke may have slurred speech and be unable to understand what someone else is saying;
  • Time – it’s time to call 911.

Other symptoms that may be present are described above as the symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm.

Factors that increase the risk of stroke and aneurysm

Factors that can put you at a higher risk of having a stroke or developing an aneurysm are generally the same.

They include the following:

  • high blood pressure;
  • lack of physical activity;
  • having extra weight;
  • smoking;
  • a personal or family history of strokes and aneurysms;
  • older age;
  • congenital defects of brain blood vessels.

In addition to the factors listed above, high cholesterol levels also raise the risk of a stroke.

To sum up, a stroke and a brain aneurysm are related but separate issues. But both of them can be fatal, so their symptoms should never be ignored.

Source: HealthLine, MedicineNet, Medical News Today

READ ALSO: Silent Stroke: A Common Problem That Often Goes Undetected

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.