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What causes a cerebral aneurysm?

Genetic diseases and circulatory disorders are associated with a cerebral aneurysm.

Cerebral aneurysms can be congenital, resulting from an inborn abnormality in an artery wall. They are more common in people with certain genetic diseases, such as connective tissue disorders, polycystic kidney disease, or circulatory disorders, such as arteriovenous malformations (snarled tangles of arteries and veins in the brain that disrupt blood flow).

Other causes include trauma or injury to the head, high blood pressure, infection, tumors, atherosclerosis (a blood vessel disease in which fats build up on the inside of artery walls) and other diseases of the vascular system, cigarette smoking, and drug abuse. Some investigators have speculated that oral contraceptives may increase the risk of aneurysms.

Aneurysms that result from an infection in the arterial wall are called mycotic aneurysms. Cancer-related aneurysms are often associated with primary or metastatic tumors of the head and neck. Drug abuse, particularly the habitual use of cocaine, can inflame blood vessels and lead to the development of aneurysms in the brain.

This answer from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.