Why are there more heart attacks in cold weather?
Learn how to protect your heart when thermometer dips below freezing.
The aorta is the largest artery in your body, running from your heart through the middle of your chest and abdominal area. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakened area of the aorta in the abdomen that bulges or expands.
The greatest concern with an abdominal aneurysm is that it may rupture. The larger the aneurysm is, the greater the risk of it rupturing. Aneurysms that rupture can cause severe internal bleeding, which can be fatal. Fortunately, this condition can be successfully treated and cured when diagnosed prior to rupture.
While the exact cause is unclear, an abdominal aortic aneurysm may be caused by multiple factors that damage the aortic wall. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is thought to play an important role. Infection, injury to the aorta and genetic disorders, including Marfan syndrome, are also factors that increase the risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Other risk factors that contribute to abdominal aortic aneurysm include:
Many of these risk factors can be reduced or eliminated by changing your lifestyle. Men older than 60 who have ever smoked should have a one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm with a simple ultrasound test.
Most people do not initially experience symptoms with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. However, the following symptoms can indicate that an aneurysm is present:
A ruptured aneurysm is very dangerous and requires emergency medical care. Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include:
The vascular surgeons at Ohio State have extensive experience with traditional open repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms, including repair of complex cases. We also are expert at minimally invasive repairs, and have experience in the use of all of the available stent graft technologies available to treat a wide variety of aneurysms. Our participation in national clinical trials helps direct the development of the next generation of stent grafts for the treatment of aneurysms.
When an abdominal aortic aneurysm is detected, it is usually incidental during an examination for another condition. Tests to confirm the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm include:
Treatment of an abdominal aortic aneurysm depends on its size and the symptoms an individual may be experiencing. The goal is to prevent the aneurysm from ever rupturing. Medication to control high blood pressure and to lower cholesterol may be prescribed. Surgery may also be indicated.
There are generally two types of aneurysm repair surgeries:
A ruptured aneurysm is a very dangerous condition. Although it is possible to repair a ruptured aneurysm surgically, it is important to identify and treat aneurysms before a rupture occurs.
Get tips from Ohio State experts right to your inbox.
We'll be in touch every so often with health tips, patient stories, important resources and other information you need to keep you and your family healthy. Welcome to our online community here at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center!