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Stroke & Aneurysm : Is there a difference?

Both a stroke and an aneurysm that bursts can come on suddenly without any warning. The symptoms will vary. The kind of emergency treatment you should receive will also depend on whether it’s a stroke or an aneurysm. Regardless of which one is the cause, a quick response to symptoms is essential.

An aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your body. Arteries have thick walls to withstand normal blood pressure. However, certain medical problems, genetic conditions, and trauma can damage or injure artery walls. The force of blood pushing against the weakened or injured walls can cause an aneurysm.

An aneurysm can grow large and rupture (burst) or dissect. A rupture causes dangerous bleeding inside the body. A dissection is a split in one or more layers of the artery wall. The split causes bleeding into and along the layers of the artery wall. Doctors often can successfully treat aortic aneurysms with medicines or surgery if they’re found in time. Medicines may be given to lower blood pressure, relax blood vessels, and reduce the risk of rupture.

A stroke occurs if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a portion of the brain is blocked. Without oxygen, brain cells start to die after a few minutes. Sudden bleeding in the brain also can cause a stroke if it damages brain cells. If brain cells die or are damaged because of a stroke, symptoms occur in the parts of the body that these brain cells control. Examples of stroke symptoms include sudden weakness; paralysis or numbness of the face, arms, or legs (paralysis is an inability to move); trouble speaking or understanding speech; and trouble seeing.

A stroke is a serious medical condition that requires emergency care. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.

The following are risk factors for stroke and aneurysm:

  • When high blood pressure, or hypertension, is uncontrolled, you’re at increased risk for a stroke and an aneurysm.

  • Smoking is also a major risk factor for stroke and aneurysm because of the damage smoking does to the health of your blood vessels.

  • A previous history of stroke or heart attack also increases your odds of having a cerebrovascular event.

  • If you’ve had one aneurysm, your odds of having another are also higher.

  • Women have a slightly higher risk than men of developing a cerebral aneurysm or a stroke.

  • Advancing age increases your risks for both events.

  • A family history of aneurysms or stroke may also put you at a higher risk for these events.

A foolproof way to prevent an aneurysm or stroke doesn’t exist. You can, however, make sure your blood pressure is under control. Here are some ways to help control your blood pressure:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Add regular exercise to your daily routine.

  • Follow a healthy diet.

  • Take medications as prescribed by your neurologist.

If you smoke, you should also talk with your doctor about strategies to quit smoking. Living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk for stroke or aneurysm. If you have an aneurysm or stroke, know more about the treatment & rehabilitation from your neurologist.

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