Timely screening can save you from the danger of aortic aneurysm rupture
An aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the aorta that grows surreptitiously before bursting out to cause sudden death. About 90% of people who experienced ruptured aortic die from it. The high risk of fatality puts it in the same group as other deadly medical conditions such as cardiac arrest, stroke, or pulmonary embolism.
The aorta is the main artery in the human body that runs through the chest and abdomen channeling the oxygenated blood through its many branches. Although it is wide and sturdy and designed to handle a large volume of blood, there can be development of balloon-like bulges at any part of it which are called aneurysms of the aorta.
The bulges can be tubular(called fusiform) or round shaped (called succular). They can occur anywhere in its main stems.
If the bulges occur in the chest cavity they are called thoracic aortic aneurysms( TAA ). If the bulges occur in the abdomen they are called abdominal aortic aneurysms( AAA ). A person may as well have both types - AAA & TAA.
Causes for aortic aneurysms
The reasons for the development of bulges in the artery may be due to localized erosion of the artery wall. The aortic aneurysms drain blood away from other organs that may lead to heart attack, stroke, and severe kidney damage.
Although, it is not very clear as to why that happens the two main risk factors are being male and aging (happens mostly after 65 years). More than 1 in 50 deaths of males in this age group are caused due to aortic aneurysms. You should take a screening if you match these criteria.
The other factors include smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol level. It can also run in the family.
Not that, all aortic aneurysms will burst readily. You may have it for years together without any palpable symptoms. That is why the detections of aortic aneurysms are mostly accidental while diagnosing other diseases.
But the rupture can happen any time, causing a major medical emergency.
Symptoms of aortic aneurysms
There are no specific symptoms of an aortic aneurysm until it becomes big. The symptoms from the larger aneurysms might include:
- Problems with breathing or swallowing.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain or back pain.
- Hoarseness and coughing.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Bruising on the side of the body.
- Weakness and loss of consciousness.
In the event of a ruptured aneurysm, there will be massive internal bleeding with sudden and severe pain. 8 out of 10 people with ruptured aortic aneurysms either die before they are taken to the hospital or can’t survive the surgery.
Diagnosing aortic aneurysms
Since aortic aneurysms do not put out any symptom until it is big, screening tests or examination for other conditions are normally the ways of diagnosing them.
The screening test involves an ultrasound scan that allows detection and measurement of your aorta aneurysms. Visit CMC Lancaster for an ultrasound scan that will take around 10 -15 minutes. Abdominal aorta aneurysms are most common in men aged over 65 years.
Treating aortic aneurysms
You are lucky if your AAA or TAA is detected before it ruptures. The treatment involves surgically replacing the affected section of the artery with a synthetic tube.
If you are not ready to go through surgery, there are ways of non-surgical treatments to reduce your risk of aneurysm rupture. For example, taking medications regularly to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Taking ultrasound scan time to time is necessary to make sure your aortic aneurysms are under control.