What is an Aortic Aneurysm?
An aortic aneurysm is a bubble, or localized swelling, of the aorta. The aorta is the largest blood vessel of the body and carries blood away from the heart to the brain, body and internal organs. It is connected directly to the heart and is normally about the size of a garden hose. The aorta is constantly expanding and contracting in coordination with the heart beat.
A widening of the aorta, called an aortic aneurysm, can develop unexpectedly deep inside the chest or stomach region (abdomen).
Aneurysm disease is a major concern and, if undiagnosed or untreated, could be a life-threatening condition. Each year, over 10,000 people in the United States die from an aortic aneurysm.
Symptoms of an Aortic Aneurysm
Abdominal Aortc Aneurysm (AAA)
SEE ALSO: Aortic Aneurysm Case Study
Many people with an aortic aneurysm have no symptoms and are unaware of the ballooning of the aorta. A buldge on the aorta (aneurysm) represents a weakening of the aortic tissue (blood vessel) which can grow to the size of an orange or grapefruit without warning.
Symptoms of an aortic aneurysm depend on where the aneurysm is located within the body. Aortic aneurysms in the stomach region, or abdomen, can produce a throbbing or stabbing pain in the side, flank, mid-back or lower abdomen. A pulsing mass of the stomach region is frequently an indicator of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, called a triple-A (AAA). Aortic aneurysms in the chest (thoracic aortic aneurysms, or TAA) are associated with a sharp pain in the upper back between the shoulder blades. A pressure in the front of the chest and trouble breathing, called shortness of breath, can also be related to an aortic aneurysm behind the rib cage and breast bone.
Aortic aneurysms are more common in men and in people who smoke. People at higher risk of developing an aortic aneurysm are those with a history of high blood pressure (hypertension), elevated cholesterol in the blood (hyperlipidemia) and related family members who have been diagnosed with an aneurysm. Patients with one aortic aneurysm are at risk of developing a second aortic aneurysm or even an aneurysm in other blood vessels elsewhere in the body.
Evaluation and screening for aortic aneurysm disease could be life-saving!
Treatment of an Abodominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) using an Aortic Stent