Agonizing Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm


Given its length, diameter and proximity, a ruptured aortic aneurysm with massive blood loss is catastrophic.

What is an Aneurysm?


Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to every organ. Ascending from the heart before bending to descend through the abdomen, the aorta is the largest arterial blood vessel in the human body. A weaken­ing wall that results in abnormal enlarge­ment of an artery any­where is dangerous. This is called an aneurysm. It can occur within an arm, a leg, the brain (leading to stroke) or elsewhere.

Given its length, diameter and proximity, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) with massive blood loss is catas­trophic. As someone interested in this topic, you recognize the magnitude of AAA. With its mortality rate of 90 percent, this is the triple-A that keeps you off the road. Slowly growing without symptoms, AAA affects 5 to 9 percent of the popula­tion (200,000 people annually in the U.S.) over 65 years of age, with a prevalence among smokers. AAA risk factors include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Atherosclerosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Diseased aorta
  • Aorta infection
  • Trauma
  • Heredity

Symptoms and Treatments

Symptoms must be differentiated from kidney stones. A cardiology doctor is alert to pain in the back, belly, side, or pulsating near the navel may be signs of impending rupture. Haematuria (blood in the urine) is the most impor­tant clinical feature in AAA, followed by pain usually felt in the left flank that radiates to the groin. Renal dysfunc­tion (urinary failure) is reported in 85% of patients. If you or loved ones are experiencing any of these symptoms, immediately contact emergency services.

EVAR has gained acceptance as an alter­na­tive to elective open repair of AAA in patients with suitable aneurysm anatomy. A promising tech­nique uses an endo­vascular balloon that is inserted through the femoral artery. Guided by fluoro­scopy, it is positioned in the supra­coeliac aorta. Patient concerns should be directed to qualified primary care physicians or cardiologists. With elective surgery in advance of major symptoms, patients can be A Bit More Healthy. If you have been through this personally or have cared for someone who has, your comments below are appreciated.

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple websites, including: A Bit More Healthy, KevinMD, and Sue’s Nutrition Buzz.

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