How Fast Does a Brain Aneurysm Kill You?

This article will answer the question “How Fast Does a Brain Aneurysm Kill You?” It will also cover in detail what brain aneurysm is, how it occurs, the risk factors for the same, and complications. It will also answer some frequently asked questions about the same. 

How Fast Does a Brain Aneurysm Kill You?

Among people who have a ruptured brain aneurysm, around 25% of them die in the first 24 hours of the rupture. 25% of them die within the next six months of the rupture due to complications. Only 50% of ruptured brain aneurysm cases survive. 

What is a brain aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm is a weak area situated right at the walk of an artery in the brain. This area is bulged out and full of blood. It is basically referred to as a ballooning of a blood vessel in the brain. It looks somewhat like a berry hanging from its stem. 

This aneurysm can leak, or get ruptured. When this happens, it leads to bleeding into the brain. This is also known as a hemorrhagic stroke. The rupture in the brain aneurysm often occurs in the space between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain. This kind of a hemorrhagic stroke is also known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage. 

If the brain aneurysm is ruptured, it can be life threatening and can need immediate medical treatment. However, most of them do not rupture or create any health related issues. They do not cause symptoms most of the time. Brain aneurysms are detectable, but they are most likely to be detected when screening for other conditions as they do not cause any problematic symptoms. 

Treating brain aneurysms is an appropriate option in some cases as they prevent it from rupturing in the future. It is important to consult your doctor and discuss all possible alternatives for the treatment of brain aneurysm. 

Symptoms of Brain Aneurysm 

The most common, or often too late of a symptom people have is when the aneurysm ruptures. This leads to a severe headache that has been described as the worst headache one can ever experience. Headaches are the biggest, most essential key symptom of brain aneurysms. 

Apart from headaches, people also report symptoms of nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, being extremely sensitive to light, experiences of seizures, drooping eyelids, state of unconsciousness, confusion, and leaking of the aneurysm. 

In rare cases, the aneurysm can leak a little amount of blood. This can lead to a sudden onset of an extremely severe headache. More severe ruptures lead to excessive leaking of blood. 

In cases of unruptured aneurysm, it may cause no symptoms. Especially if the aneurysm is small. However, when there is a bigger unruptured brain aneurysm can put undue pressure on the brain nerves and tissues and can cause pain above the eyes, and behind the eyes, especially on the side of the brain aneurysm. 

It can lead to a dilated pupil, it can cause changes in vision or lead to double vision, and numbness on one side of the face. 

What are the Causes of Brain Aneurysm? 

Sadly, the reasons behind why brain aneurysms occur remain unknown. However, there are certain risk factors highlighted by research that can increase your chances of having a brain aneurysm. 

There are a number of reasons why your artery wall in the brain can become weak and thus increase your risk of either developing a brain aneurysm or ruptures of the aneurysm. One thing to note is that brain aneurysms occur more commonly in adults as compared to children. Women are more likely to have brain aneurysms as compared to men. 

The risk factors for brain aneurysm that develop slowly over time include old age, excessive smoking, drug abuse – especially the consumption of cocaine, heavy alcohol use, head injuries due to accidents or due to certain blood infections, and brain infections (Bade, 2010). 

The risk factors for developing brain aneurysm can be present since birth as well. These include, inheriting a tissue connective disorder such as Ehlers-Danlos. There is also polycystic kidney disease which is also an inherited disorder and can lead to fluid-filled sacs in the kidney. This disorder is known to increase one’s blood pressure. 

Narrow aorta can also increase one’s risks to brain aneurysm as it affects the oxygen-rich blood supply from the heart to the body. Previous history of brain aneurysm in families, especially in first-degree relatives. 

What are the Complications in Brain Aneurysm?

The bleeding that occurs at the rupture of a brain aneurysm lasts only several seconds. However, sometimes the blood that is leaking can destroy or damage the surrounding cells in the brain, or kill them. It can also increase pressure on the tissues and walls of the brain, inside the skull. 

If this pressure keeps increasing, it can cut off the supply of both blood and oxygen supply to the brain. This can result in the loss of consciousness and in some cases, it can lead to death. 

Once the rupture has occurred, re-bleeding can also increase the risks. For instance, re-bleeding can lead to more damage to the surrounding brain cells. 

Rupture of brain aneurysms can also narrow blood vessels in the brain, and may contract them. This can lead to ischemic strokes. In such cases, there is less blood flow available for brain cells and can lead to more cell damage and cell death. 

There can also be a buildup of hydrocephalus within the brain. This is because the ruptures occur in the space that is in between the brain and thin tissues that cover the brain. The leaking blood can then come between the movement of fluid that is around the brain and spinal cord. This can result in too much fluids being collected in that area, and thus more pressure from the fluids can damage the brain cells further. 

Internal bleeding in the blood can also cause changes in the sodium levels. It disrupts the sodium balance in the body, which can damage the hypothalamus. This drop in the sodium levels in blood can cause inflammation of the brain cells and can also cause permanent, irreversible damage. 


This article answers the question “How Fast Does a Brain Aneurysm Kill You?” It also covers in detail what brain aneurysm is, how it occurs, the risk factors for the same, and complications. It also answers some frequently asked questions about the same. 

Frequently Asked Questions: How Fast Does a Brain Aneurysm Kill You?

What causes brain aneurysms to rupture?

Even though the causes of brain aneurysms is unknown, there are things that can elevate the risk of ruptures. These include smoking, high blood pressure, the size of aneurysm, location of the brain aneurysm in the brain, if the aneurysm is growing and the rate of its growth, family history of brain aneurysms, and personal history of any experiences of previous rupture (Sforza et al., 2012).

When someone is dying, what do they see or hear?

In many cases, visual or auditory hallucinations are common in the dying experiences. Individuals tend to see family members/loved ones who have passed away before, welcoming them to the “afterlife”. They may also talk to people that others do not tend to see. These visions of loved ones passing away are considered to be normal.

How does the brain shut down before dying?

After the heart stops beating, there is a significant loss of blood flow in the brain. This is when the brain starts shutting down. Due to the lack of blood flow, there is considerable loss of oxygen in the brain which forces neural activity to slow down, and eventually stop after a few minutes. However, the entire shutting down of the brain may take several hours, and thus the person may be mildly aware of their surroundings even after death. 

Which part of the brain shuts down first? 

Neuroscientists have theorised that since the supply to the brain is pumped from underneath, the brain would shut down from the top to downwards. This means that our conscious awareness of ourselves, our sense of humour, and our ability to plan fades out first in about 10-20 seconds, and then eventually our memories, knowledge of the language, as well as hearing ability fade out later.


Bade, S. (2010). Cognitive executive functions and work: Advancing from job jeopardy to success following a brain aneurysm. Work, 36(4), 389-398.

Sforza, D. M., Putman, C. M., & Cebral, J. R. (2012). Computational fluid dynamics in brain aneurysms. International journal for numerical methods in biomedical engineering, 28(6-7), 801-808.