How do you take care of your heart after 40?
As you find yourself hitting 40, you may start thinking about health issues you previously didn’t concern yourself with. Should heart health be one of them?
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. Caring for an abdominal aortic aneurysm is one of many offerings for vascular care at Ohio State.
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:
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.