What Causes Aneurysm?

In order to hopefully treat and prevent recurrence of aneurysm we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow aneurysm to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind aneurysm consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to aneurysm.  Here are five possibilities:
  • Copper Deficiency
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic Infection
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Potassium Need

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
recent onset hypertension
highly elevated lymphocyte count
no vitamin C supplementation
occasionally feeling unusually cold
sound of blood rushing in both ears
having excess body fat
hypertension in parents
minor problem with cysts
fatigue for over 3 months
being highly motivated
leg cramps caused by walking
... and more than 30 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of aneurysm:
Cause Probability Status
Chronic Infection 97% Confirm
Hypertension 20% Unlikely
Atherosclerosis 1% Ruled out
Copper Deficiency 1% Ruled out
Potassium Need 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate pre-existing cardiovascular problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Have you had an enlarged artery called an Aneurysm or experienced a ruptured Aneurysm?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No
→ Possible enlargement being watched for progression
→ Yes, may require surgery
→ Yes, ruptured or required surgery
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate absence of aneurysm, having possible aneurysm or having an aneurysm, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Chronic / Hidden Infection

Results of a small study suggest that an antibiotic may help people with abdominal aortic aneurysms.  The condition is usually treatable only with surgery.  The drug doxycycline appears to inhibit enzymes that play a role in weakening of the arterial walls.  This is a medical problem that might be influenced by an impaired immune system which allows an infection to take hold.  If doxycycline seems to help, then it is possible that either chlamydia or mycoplasma are involved. [Annual Meeting Society for Vascular Surgery meeting in Washington, DC June 1999]

Copper Deficiency

Copper deficiency can contribute to some cardiovascular risks.  Aortic aneurysms may be a genetic condition related to a defect in the ability to store or absorb copper.  Copper is a cofactor for lysyl oxidase, an enzyme that is responsible for the connective tissue integrity by crosslinking elastin.  Elastin is the main material of several important organs, which include blood vessels, spinal discs, lungs and skin.  In theory if you have a family or personal history of aneurysms, consider taking 2-4mg of copper per day, especially if significant amounts of zinc have been or are being consumed.

Men are more susceptible to aneurysms than are young women, probably because estrogen increases the efficiency of copper absorption.  However, women can be affected by this problem after pregnancy, probably because women must give the liver of their unborn babies large copper stores in order for them to survive the low milk copper.

Potassium Need

Increased potassium produces a reduction in aneurysms.  Potassium is known to be the activator for several enzyme systems.  Since only minute amounts are needed for most of them, there could never be a deficiency which would inactivate the majority of them.  However, it may be that part of the weakened connective tissue is an indirect effect of a continuing potassium deficiency on the copper metabolism, especially as it pertains to the copper catalyzed enzyme lysyl oxidase.

A low incidence of cerebrovascular disease was associated with geographical regions where fresh fruit and vegetable consumption (increased potassium) was high.  It is possible that this association may also extend to aneurysms and subarachnoid hemorrhage in addition to stroke. [Low fruits and vegetables, high-meat diet increase cerebrovascular event risk. Medical Tribune March 10, 1997:26; N Engl J Med 316( 5): pp.235-40, 1987; Lancet: pp.1191-3, 1983]


Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) weakens artery walls and predisposes the damaged portion to enlargement.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
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