Strengthening weak points: Understanding brain aneuryrsms

The Means Report - Strengthening The Weak Points: Understanding Brain Aneurysms graphic
The Means Report - Strengthening The Weak Points: Understanding Brain Aneurysms graphic
The Means Report – Strengthening The Weak Points: Understanding Brain Aneurysms graphic

Augusta, GA — Think about this for a moment: 1 in 50 people have a brain aneurysm, and a brain aneurysm ruptures every 18 minutes. 40% of the people who suffer a rupture will die. Those are frightening statistics, but technology is improving. That technology is also saving lives.

“It is a three pound organ that is mostly water.” That is how Dr. Cargill Alleyne, the Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, describes the brain. He also refers to that life sustaining organ as “the last great frontier” because there is so much that is not known about it. His fascination with that “frontier” led him to center his work on fixing the rare and possibly deadly flaws — like brain aneurysms.

Representation of the aneurysm made on a 3d printer
Representation of an aneurysm made on a 3d printer

At their simplest form, an aneurysm is a weak spot that occurs most frequently in high-pressure arteries, causing it to bubble up. They can also occur in arteriovenous malformations – a wad of weak, misdirected blood vessels that tend to form where arteries and veins come together. Most people have aneurysms with no symptoms, and they are usually detected during a brain image for some other reason.

3D angiogram of an aneurysm
3D angiogram of an aneurysm

Some risk factors for brain aneurysms are unavoidable – like heredity. Also some can even develop before birth, however, there are some risk factors that you can avoid. Smoking, chronic high blood pressure, and diabetes can all attribute to aneurysms. Dr. Alleyne believes that patients may be born with a potential weak spot at the branch point of the arteries, and they can evolve into an aneurysm over time, especially if they have one or more risk factors.

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