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Aneurysms

Pupuhi ā-ia tuku

Important

A ruptured (burst) aneurysm is life-threatening. It often happens suddenly and without warning. A ruptured aneurysm can cause dizziness, sweaty skin, fast heart rate, shortness of breath, feeling faint and loss of consciousness. A brain aneurysm can also cause a severe headache.

If you think you or someone near you is suffering from a ruptured aneurysm, phone 111 for an ambulance immediately.

An aneurysm (an-yur-ism) is where an artery wall bulges due to a weakness in the wall. Sometimes an aneurysm can rupture (burst). This is a medical emergency.

An aneurysm can happen in any of your body's arteries.

Reducing your risk of aneurysms

Doctors do not know exactly what causes an aneurysm. Some people are born with a very narrow or weak artery, which can increase the risk of getting an aneurysm.

You cannot control all risk factors, but lifestyle changes can help you lower some risks. This means:

Diagnosing an aneurysm

If your doctor suspects you may have an aneurysm, they will examine you to see if they can feel the bulge caused by the aneurysm or if they can feel its pulsations. They may arrange tests such as an angiogram or a vascular ultrasound.

An angiogram is used to see the inside of your blood vessels and organs. A special dye is injected into a vein. Then a scanner is used to look at the blood flow through your arteries.

Duplex ultrasound is a safe and painless test that uses sound waves to look at blood vessels and blood flow. This can help identify an aneurysm. Types of vascular ultrasound tests include:

Treating aneurysms

The treatment depends on your general health, the size of the aneurysm and your symptoms. Treatment options include medication, monitoring (surveillance) and surgery.

Taking medication

Your doctor might prescribe medicines to:

Monitoring (called surveillance)

This is where your doctor uses regular ultrasound scans to monitor the size and growth rate of your aneurysm.

Surgery

Sometimes you'll need surgery. Types of surgery include:

On the next page: Types of aneurysms

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2022.

Sources

Page reference: 403783

Review key: HIBLV-403653