Facts About Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
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Facts About Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an adulterated and protruding part of the lower section of the aorta. The aorta is the major blood vessel that supplies our bodies with blood. About the thickness of a garden hose, the aorta reaches from your heart to the middle of your chest and stomach. A torn abdominal aortic aneurysm is life-threatening because the aorta is the body's main supplier of blood. Being diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysm can be scary, even though you may never have symptoms.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an adulterated and protruding part of the lower section of the aorta. The aorta is the major blood vessel that supplies our bodies with blood. About the thickness of a garden hose, the aorta reaches from your heart to the middle of your chest and stomach. A torn abdominal aortic aneurysm is life-threatening because the aorta is the body's main supplier of blood. Being diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysm can be scary, even though you may never have symptoms.

Large, rapidly growing abdominal aortic aneurysms can easily rupture; however, most small abdominal aortic aneurysms don't. Treatment can vary from waiting it out to emergency surgery, depending on the size and pace at which the aortic aneurysm is growing and changing. Doctors will watch an abdominal aortic aneurysm closely so that surgery can be planned if necessary once an abdominal aortic aneurysm is found. Emergency surgery for a ruptured abdominal aneurysm can be a potential risk.

Symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Abdominal aortic aneurysms are at times hard to diagnose/detect because they can grow slowly and usually without symptoms. Some abdominal aortic aneurysms never even rupture. Many start off small and remain that way, though some grow over a period of time. Some abdominal aortic aneurysms grow slowly, growing less than half an inch during the course of a year's time. Others grow at a quicker rate, which substantially increases the risk of rupture. It's still a mystery how quickly an abdominal aortic aneurysm may become.

Some people may notice the following symptoms as an abdominal aortic aneurysm grows:

  • A pulsating feeling near the navel
  • Tenderness or pain in the abdomen or chest
  • Back pain

When to see a doctor

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it is advisable to go see your doctor.

People age 60 or older who are at risk for developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm should get regular checkups for the condition. Men aged 65 to 75 with a history of smoking cigarettes should have a one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm via abdominal ultrasound. Men aged 60 and older with a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm should also get screened for the condition.

Your doctor will recommend regular ultrasounds to check for abdominal aortic aneurysms if you have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Causes of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

It's not known what exactly causes abdominal aortic aneurysms--which occur in the part of your aorta that's in your abdomen--but a number of factors contribute to abdominal aortic aneurysms, so avoid for the following:

  • Tobacco use
  • High blood pressure
  • Infection in the aorta (a.k.a., vasculitis)

Complications Arising from Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

The main complications of abdominal aortic aneurysm are tears in the wall of the aorta and subsequent rupture of the aneurysm. A torn abdominal aortic aneurysm can lead to death via life-threatening internal bleeding. Generally speaking, the bigger the abdominal aortic aneurysm, the greater the risk of it rupturing.

Here's how to tell that your abdominal aortic aneurysm ruptured:

  • Sudden, intense and persistent abdominal, chest or back pain
  • Pain that radiates to your back or legs
  • Sweatiness
  • Clamminess
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fast pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shortness of breath

Blood clots is yet another complication of abdominal aortic aneurysms. It can cause pain or block the blood flow to the legs, toes, kidneys or abdominal organs if a blood clot breaks away from the interior wall of an aneurysm. That, in itself, can be life-threatening.

Talk to your doctor if you feel you might be suffering from an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or get tested regularly if you have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms.

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