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
  • Matt
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I have a scapular rib adhesion (washboard syndrome) I allso suffer from neck pain because of this. Osteopathic treatment is…
    19 November 2017
  • Shine
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I have always pain my scalp ad dry all scalp from the time i am working kuwait dont know why bu its always pls help me
    15 November 2017
  • Tiano
    Re: Headaches During The Night
    @Frances - if your headache is persistent, then it would be best if you visited your doc, just to make sure everything is OK <3
    10 November 2017
  • Frances
    Re: Headaches During The Night
    I been having headache for the pass two weeks
    10 November 2017
  • Sjvz
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I have a sharp sting pain on top left corner of my scalp that shoots down to my throat, started today and when I press on it then…
    8 November 2017
  • Seiboi
    Re: Numbness in Head With Pain and Dizziness: What Can it Be?
    I have severe headache blurred vision and dizziness 24hours. I can't even performed simple…
    6 November 2017
  • Katie\g
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Ans01 - if you're having problems breathing and you passed out as a result, then you need to see a doctor anyway.
    3 November 2017
  • Ans01
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    Earlier today I was having trouble breathing I went to get me something to drink in the kitchen and then I got really dizzy and…
    2 November 2017
  • sany
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    my problem is more pain in head skin...some times the back right sight become more pain...on the other hand the full body affeted…
    28 October 2017
  • Mich
    Re: What is a Spinal Tap Headache?
    Hoping someone can give me help/advice. Around 9/10 weeks ago I caught a viral infection which lasted 2 weeks. I then got a…
    26 October 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the HeadacheExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.