Aneurysm or Stroke: Which is Which?

Basically, stroke and aneurysm are conditions that affect the blood vessels surrounding the brain. But while these diseases may appear the same, they are different. Read on and learn about how they differ.

Did the doctor just say stroke or aneurysm? These two diseases have one common denominator: both conditions affect the blood vessels surrounding the brain. Although they may present almost similar symptoms, these diseases have totally different mechanisms.

What is aneurysm?

An aneurysm refers to the ballooning or bulging of any blood vessel through a weakened portion of the blood vessel, usually of an artery. This ballooning results in a blood-filled sac. This sac can eventually clot, break free and cause an obstruction that can lodge elsewhere and impede normal blood circulation. Although aneurysms most commonly affect the aorta, the heart’s largest artery, they can also affect the brain’s network or blood vessels.

There are many conditions that can cause the weakening of the arterial wall and subsequent bulge. Fatty buildup or atherosclerosis is the most common cause of aneurysm formation. Cigarette smoking and high blood pressure also increases the risk. In addition, infectious conditions, congenital defect, and traumatic injury can all lead to weakening of arterial walls.

Frequently, a person does not experience any symptom until the aneurysm hemorrhages or breaks open. However, early symptoms may be reported if the bulging artery becomes large enough that it presses against brain tissues or organs. Headaches may also result if there is a small amount of leaking before a cranial hemorrhage.

What is stroke?

A stroke refers to the death of brain cells due to a disruption in blood supply to the brain tissues. It can be caused by a sudden bleeding in the brain, such as due to trauma, health condition, or aneurysm. Symptoms of stroke include numbness or paralysis of arms, legs or face, sudden weakness, and trouble seeing or speaking.

There are rare cases of stroke where the blood flow is normal but the oxygen content is low, such as in severe anemia or in carbon monoxide poisoning. The outcome of a stroke is dependent on which part of the brain was greatly affected or cut off from oxygen supply, as well as, how long the interruption lasts.

Brief periods of insufficient blood supply to the parts of the brain are termed asAneurysm or Stroke transient ischemic attack (TIA), also dubbed as “mini-stroke.” TIAs should be taken seriously as they often herald impending stroke.

In summary, stroke can be the end result of an aneurysm. But more importantly, aneurysm and stroke are both serious medical conditions require immediate first aid and emergency care. Learn how to manage these medical emergencies by taking basic first aid courses.

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