What is Aortic Aneurysm?
Aortic aneurysm is an abnormal enlargement or bulging of the aorta, the main blood vessel leading blood away from the heart to the body.
This can be a life-threatening disease if not discovered early. Over time, the blood vessel can burst or separate (known as dissection).
The cause can be genetic or due to conditions such as hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) or degenerative disease. Risk factors for aortic aneurysms include being male, age 60 and over, having a history of smoking, and history of aneurysms in other family members.
Symptoms of an Aortic Aneurysm
Most people with aortic aneurysms have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can depend on location, size, and how fast the aneurysm is growing. Sudden, severe pain associated with an aortic aneurysm may be a sign of a life-threatening medical emergency. Symptoms of an aneurysm can include:
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Pulsing in the upper part of the abdomen
If aneurysms rupture, they are usually very painful and are considered a medical emergency.
UR Medicine's Treatments for Aortic Aneurysm
Aortic aneurysms are usually discovered through an echocardiogram ultrasound test or a CT scan.
If the aneurysm is less than 5 cm (or 2 inches) and not growing rapidly, your doctor might recommend a repeat ultrasound every 6 to 12 months. If the aneurysm is 5.5 cm or larger, or if it is expanding rapidly, surgery to repair the aneurysm is usually recommended.
- Monitoring with echocardiogram test or CT scan is done to track the size and rate of growth of the aneurysm.
- Managing risk factors: Steps to improve your lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, controlling blood sugar if you have diabetes, losing weight if overweight, and eating a healthy diet may limit the progression of an aneurysm.
- Medicine: Your doctor may prescribe medications to control risk factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm open repair: If an ascending aneurysm involves damage to the aortic valve of the heart, the valve may be repaired or replaced. For a descending aneurysm, the surgeon might need a larger incision to see the aorta directly to repair the aneurysm.
- Thoracic Endovascular Aortic Repair (TEVAR): TEVAR is a minimally invasive surgery using a stent to help prevent the aneurysm from bursting. A vascular surgeon and a team of specialized healthcare providers will perform the surgery.
What Sets Us Apart?
UR Medicine leads the region in the number and scope of specialized heart services. Our team of experts includes cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons, cardiologists, interventional cardiologists and cardiovascular imaging specialists.
We work with patients to understand the benefits and risks of each treatment option, while coordinating consultations with the full-range of specialists to provide a seamless experience for patients and their families. Our specialty programs ensure that you get the very latest treatments for a wide range of conditions.
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