A brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation) may not cause any signs or symptoms until the AVM ruptures, resulting in bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage). However, about half of those with an AVM may have symptoms other than bleeding that are related to the AVM. An AVM may also be detected on a brain scan performed for reasons unrelated to the AVM.
Signs and symptoms of a brain AVM include:
- A whooshing sound (bruit) that can be heard on examination of the skull with a stethoscope or may be audible if you have an AVM
- Progressive weakness or numbness
When bleeding into the brain occurs, signs and symptoms can be similar to a stroke and may include:
- Sudden, severe headache
- Weakness, numbness or paralysis
- Vision loss
- Difficulty speaking
- Inability to understand others
- Severe unsteadiness
Symptoms may begin at any age, but you're more likely to experience symptoms before age 50. Brain AVM can damage brain tissue over time. The effects slowly build up, sometimes causing symptoms in early adulthood. Once you reach middle age, however, brain AVMs tend to remain stable and are less likely to cause symptoms.
For women, pregnancy may start or worsen symptoms because of the increased blood flow and blood volume during pregnancy.
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any signs or symptoms of a brain AVM. A bleeding brain AVM is life-threatening and requires emergency medical attention.
Feb. 12, 2011
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