Aneurysms are defined as inflation of a blood vessel or the heart so that size is greatly increased and the wall of the vessel (or of the heart) is significantly stretched. Walls can weaken and the aneurysm can rupture, which when it occurs in certain parts of the body is a medical emergency and an extreme danger to the affected person. Common aneurysm symptoms will vary based on where they occur in the body, and whether or not the aneurysm has ruptured.
Many think of these abnormalities occurring most often in the brain. Pre-rupture, people with a brain aneurysm could have changes in vision, weakness and/or pain in one eye, and a feeling that one side of the face is weakened or impaired. Other symptoms can include one eyelid that droops and possible dilation of that same eye’s pupil.
Rupture is described as an incredibly painful experience, where headache may be very severe and might be accompanied by throwing up. Some people will have seizures, and others lose consciousness. Symptoms of the eye drooping and being dilated remain, and many people are confused.
Several types of aneurysms affect the aorta, which is the major vessel connected to the left ventricle. These may not have that many aneurysm symptoms prior to rupture, and some aortic aneurysms don’t rupture. It’s generally thought that about three-quarters of people who have an aortic aneurysm don’t feel any symptoms at all.
However for the abdominal aortic type, some people have aneurysm symptoms that include feeling an odd pulsation in the stomach at the belly button, having back pain, and feeling chest or stomach pain. If an aortic aneurysm bursts, aneurysm symptoms increase dramatically and pain is felt intensely in the back and possibly the stomach or chest. It may be accompanied by dizziness, confusion, cold and clammy skin, and pain that affects the backs of the legs. Some people do lose consciousness, and upon examination it is noted that heart rate is fast but blood pressure is very low.
Aortic aneurysm is extraordinarily dangerous if it occurs. Since it is frequently asymptomatic, people should evaluate the factors that may cause one. Those most at risk for this condition are those with high blood pressure, smokers, and those with atherosclerosis (narrowing of the blood vessels).
A heart or ventricular aneurysm is very rare and may occur most often within a few weeks of having suffered a heart attack. If muscle in the left ventricle dies, it can balloon out, making pumping even more difficult. Ventricular aneurysm symptoms can vary but may include pain in the jaw or neck and pain in the chest. Some people also have difficulty catching their breath or they may faint. Should these symptoms arise, they are a medical emergency. If a ventricular aneurysm ruptures it is very likely to cause death.