A brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.
The arteries are responsible for taking oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. Veins carry the oxygen-depleted blood back to the lungs and heart. A brain AVM disrupts this vital process.
An arteriovenous malformation can develop anywhere in your body but occurs most often in the brain or spine. Even so, brain AVMs are rare and affect less than 1 percent of the population.
The cause of AVMs is not clear. Most people are born with them, but they can occasionally form later in life. They are rarely passed down among families genetically.
Some people with brain AVMs experience signs and symptoms, such as headache or seizures. AVMs are commonly found after a brain scan for another health issue or after the blood vessels rupture and cause bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage).
Once diagnosed, a brain AVM can often be treated successfully to prevent complications, such as brain damage or stroke.
AVM’s are considered to be congenital and are rarely passed down through families, with the exception of Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT). I am not familiar with HHT, but plan to look into it more and share what I can on it.
An AVM can happen anywhere in the body where arteries and veins come together. The way it was explained to me, there should be capillaries between the arteries and veins, but in an AVM the cappillaries do not form. This ends up causing a tangled mess of arteries and veins. They are often in the brain or spine, but can also be throughout limbs of the body. My AVM was located in the left temporal lobe of the brain. A scary thing for me because that area deals with speech.
Finding an AVM can happen in different ways. Some people will go their entire life and never know there was an AVM and my come to light only in an autopsy. There are symptoms like headaches and seizures. They can be found when the blood vessels reach the point that they rupture. Some people find theirs when having testing done for other injuries that have nothing to do with an AVM. They can be found at any time in life from children to elderly people. I began having seizures and through testing my AVM was finally found through an MRI. I’ve met people online that found out about their AVM after waking up from surgery because of a rupture. Everyone goes through their own journey, but it all comes back to having and AVM somewhere in their body.
This is a quick overview of an arteriovenous malformation(AVM). Please feel free to leave any comments or ask questions. Thanks for reading.