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Advances in Health: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Advances in Health

Aortic Aneurysm & Dissection

In the day-to-day travels of blood through the body, the aorta is our arterial Grand Central Station. It’s the largest artery in the body, extending from the left ventricle of the heart to the abdomen, where it divides into two smaller arteries.

The aorta carries blood from the heart, newly flush with oxygen, to the rest of your body. When diseased, the aorta can dilate (aneurysm) or split (dissection). A rupture is potentially fatal. 

“Aneurysms expand slowly over many years and are considered silent killers,” said Dr. Akhilesh Jain, vascular and endovascular surgeon at the Heart & Vascular Institute. “There are typically no symptoms until rupture occurs, and up to 90 percent of patients who experience a rupture will not survive.”

Abdominal – An aneurysm in the area below the chest.

Causes:

  • Tobacco use.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • Aorta infection.
  • Diseased blood vessels in the aorta

Risk Factors:

  • Smoking.
  • History of heart disease or peripheral arterial disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Elevated levels of fat in the blood (hyperlipidemia).
  • Age (over 60).
  • Gender (males are at higher risk)
  • Family history.

Treatment

If you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, you might not know it until it ruptures. An aneurysm can grow for years without noticeable symptoms until it gets so big that it pressures adjacent body parts or restricts blood flow.

Your primary care physician might detect it a mass in your abdomen during your annual physical exam. If it’s about to burst, the area can be sensitive, and painful, to the touch. Through a doctor’s stethoscope, your blood flow might even sound different.  In either of these cases, your doctor will immediately refer you to a cardiothoracic or vascular surgeon.

For more information on the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute click here or call 833.444.0014.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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