Stroke vs. aneurysm: symptoms and treatment

December 10, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

Stroke and aneurysm are two different conditions that can affect the brain. And while an aneurysm can cause a hemorrhagic stroke, the two are quite different.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or blood supply to the brain has been blocked.

Ischemic strokes occur when blood supply to the brain is blocked. These are the most common type, making up about 87 percent of all strokes. A hemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery ruptures.

An aneurysm is the result of a weakened artery wall that can bulge and rupture. Aneurysms can occur in the brain (cerebral aneurysm) or in other parts of the body, such as the abdomen or the heart. A brain aneurysm can cause a hemorrhagic stroke.

Most people will not notice symptoms of aneurysm until the vessel bursts. Once that occurs, symptoms of stroke and aneurysm can be similar and come on suddenly.

Symptoms of stroke may include:

  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Numbness on one side of body
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Vision problems
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with speech

To help identify a stroke, remember BE FAST – balance issues, eyes (vision loss), facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911.

Symptoms of aneurysm can include:

  • Sudden, incapacitating headache
  • Numbness or weakness in one or both limbs
  • Memory issues
  • Blurred or double vision
  • A drooping eyelid
  • Seizure
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Both have similar risk factors, including:

  • Age
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Personal or family history of stroke or aneurysm

Strokes and ruptured aneurysms are both medical emergencies that need immediate medical attention.

“Time is brain” is what doctors say when it comes to treating a patient who’s having a stroke. Every second can mean the difference between life and death, total independence or long-term disability.

If you have suffered an ischemic stroke, your doctor may treat it using medications to help break up the clot or perform a thrombectomy to remove it.

In the event of a hemorrhagic stroke, doctors may need to perform surgery to repair the damaged blood vessel. The procedure may include using a special clip to repair the damaged vessel.

>In the event of an aneurysm that has not ruptured, treatment may involve medications and regular imaging to make sure the aneurysm has not grown. A ruptured aneurysm is life-threatening and needs emergency surgery.

Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, adopting a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, controlling high blood pressure and taking medications as prescribed can help reduce your risk for stroke or aneurysm.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we strive to provide the fastest, most efficient and effective stroke care possible. Learn about our stroke and vascular services.

Learn your risk for stroke with a free, 5-minute assessment.

Your heart is in good hands when you choose us for cardiovascular care. Learn more about our high-quality heart care.

Learn your risk for heart disease with a free, 5-minute assessment.

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