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Aneurysms

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.

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 when the wall of an artery bulges due to a weakness in the artery wall. Sometimes an aneurysm can rupture (burst). This is a medical emergency.

An aneurysm can happen in any of your body's arteries. The most common types of aneurysms are described in Types of aneurysms.

What causes aneurysms?

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes an aneurysm. But you may be more at risk if you're male, smoke, have a family history of aneurysms, and have high blood pressure or atherosclerosis. Some people are born with a very narrow or weak artery, which can increase the risk of getting an aneurysm.

How are aneurysms diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you may have an aneurysm, they may arrange tests such as an angiogram or a vascular ultrasound. For more information about these tests, see Tests for blood vessel problems.

How are aneurysms treated?

The treatment will depend on your general health, the size of the aneurysm and your symptoms. Treatment options include reducing your risk factors, medication, monitoring (surveillance) and surgery.

Reducing your risk factors

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

Taking medication

Your doctor might prescribe medicines to:

Monitoring (called surveillance)

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

Surgery

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

For more information about these types of surgery, see Treatments for blood vessel problems.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Types of aneurysms

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created July 2018.

Sources

Image courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Page reference: 403783

Review key: HIBLV-403653