Understanding brain aneurysms: prevalence, costs, and the importance of early diagnosis

Belen Saldana


Brain aneurysms can be fatal if they are not detected and treated in time. This blog post will provide some facts and figures about brain aneurysms, highlighting how common they are, how they can be diagnosed, and how they can be treated.

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What are brain aneurysms and how common are they?

A brain aneurysm is a weak or swollen area in a blood vessel inside the brain. This area can break open and cause a serious and life-threatening condition called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. About 6 million people in the United States have a brain aneurysm that has not ruptured.

Brain aneurysms in the US: key facts

About one in 50 people in the United States has an unruptured brain aneurysm, and every year, about 30,000 people suffer a rupture. This means that a rupture occurs every 18 minutes on average. Brain aneurysms are responsible for almost 500,000 deaths worldwide each year, and many of the victims are younger than 50. Some people have more than one aneurysm in their brain, which makes the condition more complicated and requires careful medical assessment.

Having more than one aneurysm in the brain is not uncommon. About 20% of people who are diagnosed with a brain aneurysm have more than one. This shows how complex the condition is and why it needs thorough medical evaluations.

Brain aneurysms are a serious health problem, but they receive very little research funding. The federal government only spends $2.08 per year for each person who has a brain aneurysm on research. This shows a clear need for more funding and attention to this critical health issue.

Brain aneurysm risk factors: gender and race

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Brain aneurysms are 50% more common in women than in men. Women over 55 years old have about 1.5 times the chance of an aneurysm rupture than men over 55 years old. African-American and Hispanic populations have double the risk of aneurysm rupture compared to White populations. Brain aneurysms can affect anyone from 35 to 60 years old, and sometimes even children, but most aneurysms form after 40 years old.

How brain aneurysms form and grow

Most brain aneurysms are small, ranging from 1/8 inch to one inch in size, and they usually do not burst. However, some aneurysms are very large, more than one inch, and are called “giant” aneurysms. These are more likely to rupture and cause bleeding in the brain. They can also be harder to treat. 

Impact and prevalence

Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 50% of cases, and about 15% of ruptured brain aneurysm sufferers will die before reaching the hospital. Even those who survive still suffer major consequences – approximately 66% of people who survive a ruptured brain aneurysm will experience some permanent neurological damage.

There are a number of risk factors for brain aneurysms, including high blood pressure, smoking, and family history. However, many people with brain aneurysms have no known risk factors. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of brain aneurysms, such as sudden and severe headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, and blurred vision.

Prevalence and Diagnosis

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Ruptured brain aneurysms are a serious medical condition that can be fatal or lead to devastating neurological deficits. They account for 3-5% of all new strokes, and are estimated to affect one in 100 patients evaluated in an emergency department for headaches.

Accurate diagnosis of a brain aneurysm is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment plan. Diagnostic methods include medical imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography angiography (CTA), which enable healthcare professionals to visualize the blood vessels in the brain and identify any potential aneurysms.

Timely treatment is of utmost importance in managing brain aneurysms. Once diagnosed, healthcare providers may recommend either surgical intervention or endovascular coiling, depending on the size, location, and risk factors associated with the aneurysm. Prompt treatment can significantly reduce the risk of rupture and subsequent complications.

Despite the widespread availability of brain imaging that can detect a ruptured brain aneurysm, misdiagnosis or delays in diagnosis occur in up to one quarter of patients when initially seeking medical attention. Worryingly, in three out of four cases, misdiagnosis results from a failure to do a scan.

Brain aneurysm treatment options and costs

The financial impact of treating brain aneurysms is also substantial. The treatment of ruptured brain aneurysms is far more costly than the treatment of unruptured aneurysms. The price of surgical clipping for a brain aneurysm more than doubles after the aneurysm has burst. Similarly, the cost of a brain aneurysm treated by endovascular coiling increases by about 70% after the aneurysm has ruptured.

The cost of treatment of brain aneurysms and ruptured aneurysms will depend heavily on the situation, hospital, and insurance plan that you have. Due to these factors, we cannot give a specific cost estimate, but you should expect it to cost as much as a major medical procedure involving surgery.


In conclusion, brain aneurysms are a significant medical concern with potentially severe consequences if not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. Understanding the facts and statistics surrounding this condition is crucial in promoting awareness and encouraging individuals to seek medical attention if they suspect the presence of a brain aneurysm. By prioritizing accurate diagnosis and timely treatment, we can minimize the risks associated with brain aneurysms and improve patient outcomes.

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