Brain Aneurysm vs. Hemorrhage

by | Jun 5, 2024

Understand the differences between brain aneurysms and hemorrhages at our specialized brain aneurysm clinic in Singapore. Learn how specifically, a ruptured brain aneurysm causes a type of hemorrhagic stroke called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. 

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Key Differences Between Brain Aneurysms and Hemorrhages

A bleed in the brain are not words you would want to hear. A lot of people think that a brain hemorrhage and aneurysm are the same thing, but in fact they are quite different. Understanding the differences helps you avoid major health problems and know what kind of medical care to seek.

A brain aneurysm, also known as a cerebal aneurysm, is a structural abnormality of an artery. A weak or thin spot bulges and fills with blood, potentially putting pressue on nerves and brain tissue.

A brain hemorrhage, on the other hand, is active bleeding inside the brain. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that an aneurysm can rupture or burst, resulting in hemorrhage. However, a brain hemorrhage can also be caused by a variety of other health conditions or by direct trauma to the head. Other causes include extremely high blood pressure, a bleeding disorder, liver disease, certain drugs, or a brain tumor.

So, while an aneurysm can turn into a hemorrhage, not all hemorrhages are caused by aneurysms and not all aneurysms cause hemorrhages. Any bleeding in the brain is a medical emergency as substantial damage can be done to the brain in a very short period of time.


How Brain Aneurysms Can Lead To Hemorrhages

Aneurysms lead to hemorrhages when and if they rupture or burst. This sends the blood that was in the bulge and other blood from the aneurysm into the brain. This results in a sudden and extremely severe headache, sometimes with other symptoms such as double vision, nausea, seizures, and sensitivity to light. Not all aneurysms rupture. Risk factors for a ruptured aneurysm include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • A family history of aneurysm
  • Prior history of a rupture

Larger aneurysms and aneurysms in the back part of the brain are more likely to rupture. If you have been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, you should quit smoking (seek help if needed) and may have to take medication to control your blood pressure. You should also control your weight and eat a healthy diet.


Treatment Options for Brain Aneurysms

Most small, unruptured brain aneurysms do not require medical treatment. Typically, the aneurysm will be monitored and you may be recommended lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking. Treatment for aneurysms can also be risky, and your doctor will evaluate the best course of action, especially if you have no symptoms.

The primary treatment options for unruptured aneurysms are:

  1. Flow diversion: The doctor will use a catheter to insert a stent that disrupts the flow of blood into the aneurysm, basically diverting blood around it.
  2. Endovascular coiling: Tiny coils of platinum wire are inserted into the artery. The coils block the aneurysm, reducing the blood flow and shrinking the aneurysm. Aneurysms treated in this way can sometimes recur.
  3. Microvascular clipping: This requires open brain surgery, in which a tiny metal clip, similar to a clothes pin, is used to close the aneurysm. This has a very high success rate and doesn’t need to be repeated but is more invasive.


Treatment Options for Brain Hemorrhages

Again, any bleeding in the brain should be treated as a medical emergency. Immediate medical interventions include calcium channel blockers to reduce the risk of stroke, anticonvulsants to prevent seizures, and medication to get blood pressure down quickly.

A ruptured aneurysm might be treated with clipping or endovascular coiling, or with stent-assisted coiling. If clipping is needed, a craniotomy to remove part of the skull will be done. If a blood clot has formed in the brain, a catheter may be used to break down and remove the clot. Medication is often used to treat seizures, headaches, and mental health issues such as anxiety.


Recovery and Rehabilitation

Recovery from a brain hemorrhage depends on the severity of any damage and complications, and on what part of the brain is affected. Any kind of hemorrhage can lead to memory deficits, personality changes, and physical disability. About half of those who survive a ruptured aneurysm will have some form of disability.

Rehabilitation will include lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of another incident for brain aneurysms this means quitting smoking and losing weight, while hemorrhages caused by extremely high blood pressure may require a special diet and medication. Most people will need some form of physical, occupational, or speech therapy to retrain their brain to work around any damage.


Prevention and Risk Management

Aneurysms are best prevented by not smoking, or by quitting smoking, especially if you have a family member who experienced a ruptured aneurysm. If you have high blood pressure, follow dietary guidelines and always take your medication as recommended.

Preventing other forms of brain hemorrhages may involve other lifestyle changes. For example, if you engage in activities that increase the risk of physical head trauma, you should always wear a helmet and any other recommended safety gear.

If you have a brain aneurysm or a past brain hemorrhage, Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic can help. Contact us to schedule an appointment today to talk about how you can improve your recovery and reduce the risk of further damage.

Brain Aneurysm Resources

Discover brain aneurysm resources that go beyond the basics designed for patients. Understand the meaning of  a brain aneurysm condition, the causes, symptoms, signs, and more. Connect with your brain health.

Put Brain Aneurysm on Your Health Radar

Did you experience the worst headache of your life? Could it be a brain aneurysm that ruptures, which means bleeding in the brain? Thoughts could be racing through your mind. Then what is the difference between unruptured (a weak or thin spot on an artery in the brain that balloons) or ruptured brain aneurysm? If you’re wondering, then the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is here to help. It’s important to look out for the tell-tale brain aneurysm symptoms, signs, causes, and risk factors.

Dr. Manish Taneja has been performing brain aneurysm treatments since 1995 from surgical clipping to latest minimally invasive procedures. Each patient is unique as is the size and location of the aneurysm. Your brain has different conditions to treat the aneurysm and artery vessel walls of a blood vessel in the brain. This calls for personalised brain aneurysm treatment depending on your symptoms, family, history, medication, and more. A simple CT scan could be just what the doctor ordered and the first step in early detection and prevention of a brain aneurysm. Come in for an easy consultation with our brain aneurysm specialist in Singapore to be on your health radar.

Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various conditions and treatments. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our brain aneurysm specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.