Home > Case Studies > My Headaches Were Due to an Aneurysm: A Case Study

My Headaches Were Due to an Aneurysm: A Case Study

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 3 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Headaches Headache Collapse Stroke

Claire is a slim woman in her mid 50s and looks the picture of health. It is difficult to believe that two years ago, she lay dangerously ill in intensive care after a blood vessel in her brain burst, causing her to be rushed into hospital for emergency treatment.

“I had been feeling fine until about three months before, when I started to suffer from headaches at the back of my head, particularly if I had been overdoing things, or I was particularly stressed; I put it down to having a tension headache and thought I was simply trying to do too much. I had taken on extra responsibilities at work and that seemed to explain my symptoms,” says Claire.

The Worst Headache Ever

Just after Claire arrived for work one day, she experienced what she now calls the worst headache she has ever had in her life. “The pain was unbelievable and excruciating – it felt as though someone had lodged an axe into the back of my head and were then twisting it repeatedly,” remembers Claire. The pain was so bad and Claire felt so ill that she collapsed and then went into a convulsion. Work colleagues acted quickly, thinking she was having a stroke and called an ambulance immediately.

“Their fast actions certainly made a difference – I was in hospital in 15 minutes and under neurological assessment almost immediately. I don’t remember any of this as I was drifting in and out of consciousness but I was aware I was vomiting more or less all the time. I am thankful really that I remember so little,” she says.

A Subarachnoid Haemorrhage is Diagnosed

After various examinations, the consultant on duty that day thought that Claire had probably had a subarachnoid haemorrhage. This is where an artery in the brain becomes expanded, causing an aneurysm, a swelling in the blood vessel. This had become weakened and had been leaking blood but Claire had now suffered a more serious leak that was causing pressure to build up in her brain. “During the CT scan though, nothing major showed up, but a spinal tap showed that I had blood in the fluid around my spine. This confirmed that I had an actively bleeding aneurysm,” explains Claire.

Treating the Aneurysm

Emergency surgery was arranged and a stent was put in place through the artery in Claire’s neck protecting her from further bleeds and encasing the aneurysm so that it would not become weaker. Afterwards, Claire was intensive care for five days and then stayed in hospital a further two weeks. “My blood pressure had to be very well controlled to make sure it was kept quite low to not put any pressure on the repair in my brain. I was given pain killers, medicine to reduce my anxiety, anti-convulsion medication to stop me having fits and I had to literally just lie in bed. Any activity was expressly forbidden. I even had to have laxatives so that I didn’t strain when I went to the loo – I can sort of laugh about it now but it was very difficult to cope with at the time,” says Claire.

Recovering at Home

After more tests, Claire was eventually allowed home but she had to rest and recuperate for three months, having regular checks and a CT scan to confirm that the aneurysm in her brain had been repaired successfully. “My headaches were originally a warning but everyone gets headaches from time to time, particularly at times of stress, and there was no way of knowing that something was seriously wrong. I am now back to full health and follow up tests have shown that I don’t seem to have any more danger spots. Why I had the aneurysm in the first place is a bit of a mystery – and I am a bit scared now if I do get a headache,” says Claire.

However, the experience has changed her attitude to life and she has reduced her work hours and has resolved to spend more time doing what she enjoys. “It was certainly a wakeup call and I will never take life for granted again,” she adds.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • OllO
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Kk - I would. Obviously, it's going to be an impact, but if it doesn't subside it's always good to get stuff checked out…
    19 July 2018
  • Mr.brown
    Re: Headaches Caused By Infection
    Question I recently had taken sti antibiotics for one week after that's about a week from the last day I took the pills I start…
    11 July 2018
  • Hil
    Re: Migraines and Menopause
    @CarryWarry - Oh wow - thanks for this. I have had a continual headache since menopause, having never suffered previously in my life.
    2 July 2018
  • MiM
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Queen - go back. If you have taken the time out to ask for help, then you need to see someone as obviously your neck is not right.
    2 July 2018
  • CarryWarry
    Re: Migraines and Menopause
    I am hoping to be at the end of a horrific 2.5 year period of hell with headaches which came out of the blue. My story started with me…
    2 July 2018
  • Queen
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I hit my head about 3 months ago. It hurt but I'm someone who has a high pain threshold and tend to "walk things off". However,…
    2 July 2018
  • Shazza
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I fell few weeks backs banging my head slightly. But last few days my head as been a bit fuzzy with headaches any need for…
    19 June 2018
  • Migraines/tension/pr
    Re: Numbness in Head With Pain and Dizziness: What Can it Be?
    I feel numbness on both sides and top of my head feels like my brain is swallon like a lot…
    18 June 2018
  • Lou
    Re: Headaches Caused By Infection
    I'm having lightheaded and can't stand up been in hospital they done all the test MRI ct scan all clear had a really bad attract…
    11 June 2018
  • N0NE
    Re: Headache With Pins and Needles: Is This Serious?
    Started feeling nausea yesterday,just now I felt sick,stood up and felt dizzy felt like I was going pass…
    5 June 2018