3 Surprising Risk Factors for Aneurysms

a close-up of a stethoscope

An aneurysm is a horrifying moment. Cerebral aneurysms, also known as brain aneurysms, are caused by the weakening of an artery wall. When this happens, the artery becomes locally enlarged and can even burst. Severe headaches, nausea, seizures, and confusion are common telltale signs of an aneurysm. However, they are sometimes asymptomatic, leading to issues that by then mean it’s too late. There are several risk factors associated with aneurysms that people of any age should be aware of to limit the risk of rupture.



As is the case for many medical ailments and conditions, smoking is one of the most common aneurysm risk factors. Smoking has been linked to causing the brain’s blood vessels to develop weak spots. These weak spots can rupture and cause bleeding that can lead to stroke, disability, and even death. Cigarette smoke destroys the walls of the arteries and breaks down their lining. It’s important to try to also eliminate any exposure to secondhand smoke to reduce the risk of aneurysm rupture.

The best thing that a person can do to eliminate this increased risk is to quit smoking. The truth is that the longer you are smoke-free, the better it is for your overall health. Within the first week of quitting, former users experience an improvement in blood flow, as well as the development of new cilia within the lungs and an increase in the oxygen level of the blood. Ten years after you quit, you’ll reduce not only the risk of an aneurysm but heart disease and lung cancer as well.



High blood pressure, or hypertension, is another significant risk factor in aneurysms. While there’s no clear-cut cause for this development, some researchers have found that the connection is through a form of secondary hypertension brought on by a range of issues from kidney problems to illegal drug use. Monitoring blood pressure is part of overall health care. Whether you opt for pulmonary care in Bridgewater, NJ, or elsewhere in the United States, having an evaluation of this level is an easy way to lower the risk of a rupture.

Hypertension can weaken the aneurysmal wall by directly increasing mechanical stresses. This can lead to vascular inflammation, contributing to a potential rupture. High blood pressure is the leading cause of subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding between the brain and the surrounding membrane, which occurs when a brain aneurysm ruptures. The bleeding can also damage the brain and lead to a hemorrhagic stroke, a significant medical emergency that can result in paralysis of the arms and legs.

Family and Medical History


The truth is that medical issues that arise over a person’s lifetime can also be a strong risk factor for an aneurysm. The same is true for their family members. If there is a history of cerebral aneurysms in your family, you may be more likely to develop one. Specifically, the risk is highest for those with first-degree relatives who have suffered from such aneurysms. Age, gender, and race can also have an impact on different types of aneurysms.

Drug and alcohol use can also have an impact on how the main artery functions. The use of certain drugs, like cocaine, is linked with the development of a cerebral aneurysm. Heavy alcohol consumption can also increase someone’s risk. There are also a number of factors that could be brought on by preexisting conditions. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and polycystic kidney disease patients are considered at greater risk for an aneurysm burst. If these conditions are a part of your medical history or a close family member’s, you may want to get screened regularly for aneurysms.