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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Diseases of the Aorta

Question: are aorta and brain aneurysms related?

 heartbroken - Wed Feb 01, 2006 2:34 am

my 35yo twin brother died suddenly from an aortic aneurysm and my 26 yo sister from a brain aneurysm, are these related? My brother had hypertension. His labs from the ER showed his potassium was 2.6. Was this caused by the aneurysm or can a k+ this low cause one? Our cousin died from aortic aneurysm 2 weeks post partum and had physical characteristics of Marfans, but my brother did not have any of these. Is genetic testing in order for me or my children?
 surgicalhrtrn - Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:16 am

Dear Heartbroken,

First of all, I am very sorry for your loss. To answer your question, brain anuerysms and aortic aneurysms are not related. A brain aneurysm occurs in the brain and is often an "outpouching" of a vessel in the brain. When blood pressure becomes high, the aneurysm is at risk for rupture and that is often what causes death.

An aortic aneurysm occurs in the aorta in the body. The aorta is a vessel that branches off of the heart and runs down the center of the body. This is the main vessel in the body, that feeds blood supply to the kidneys, liver, and mulitple other organs. As with a brain aneursym, an "outpouching" of the aorta occurs and if blood pressure is too high the aorta will dissect or tear. There are 2 types of aortic aneurysms; ascending and descending. Ascending is above the level of the diaphragm and descending is below.

As for the low potassium, that did not cause the rupture of the aneurysm, the hypertension did. An aneurysm often times is developed through a thinning of the wall of the vessel. Hypertension can cause this as well as Marfan's syndrome.

As far as genetic testing goes, there is none that can be done. Just close contact and discussion with your primary care doctor is necessary. Your doctor can examine your children to see if they will develop Marfan's, monitor blood pressure closely to see if hypertension develops. and watch electrolyte levels to make sure nothing drops significantly.

Also, keep a log of the frequency and intensity of headaches, severe headaches can be a sign of a brain aneurysm.

Hope this answers your questions.

Best of luck to you!

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