Aorta is the largest artery in the body and the primary blood vessel that distributes blood from the heart to the chest and abdomen. Any leakage in the aorta can cause serious consequences since it is the main blood vessel supplying major organs of the body. Due to some reasons the aorta gets dilated and can develop ballooning and this is known as abdominal aortic aneurysm. Due to developing pressure inside the artery, the walls of the artery gets inflamed leading to aneurysm. Often abdominal aneurysm does not produce any symptom until it ruptures inside. The chance of rupturing of abdominal aortic aneurysm increases with its size. Surgery can be done for AAA which is often risky.
Why certain people develop abdominal aortic aneurysm and some others do not – is not known. It is believed to develop in older people and to some extent genetic factors play an important role.
- As one grows old certain tissues formed by elastin and collagen (essential supporting layer of aorta) loses its strength leading to AAA.
- Smoking can increase the risk of forming abdominal aneurysm since it can form plaque like deposits on the arteries leading to high blood pressure.
- Atherosclerosis is a process of hardening of arteries that can cause AAA. Any infection on the aorta can weaken the walls of the artery leading to AAA.
- For some people aneurysm can develop in the upper region of aorta which is known as thoracic aorta aneurysm.
- Abdominal aorta aneurysm is one that develops due to thickening of aorta in the lower region.
- One out of every 100 women and 4 out of every 100 men above 65 years has increased chance of developing AAA.
Ballooning of artery in the abdominal region does not develop overnight. It is a process that occurs slowly. Often AAA will not produce any symptoms unless there is enough pressure on the arteries for it to rupture. It is really difficult to detect abdominal aneurysm since it is subtle and silent growing without any symptoms. Some people may have signs of mild back pain, sharp pain in the sides of abdomen and a pulsating feeling in the navel.
Blood clots can develop in the lining of artery which can be slowly released in the bloodstream, eventually blocking another artery. This process is called emboli and is life threatening. When there is sudden rupture of the aneurysm it produces severe abdominal pain followed by sharp decline in blood pressure due to internal bleeding.
Chance of rupturing of AAA :
The size of the aneurysm decides the chance of rupturing of abdominal aneurysm. The larger is the size of balloon the more is the chance of rupturing. Similarly the more is the pressure inside the aorta the more is the chance of rupturing. If the size of aneurysm is less than 30mm it has low chance of getting ruptured. If the size is 60-70mm it has 25-30% chance of rupturing and if the size grows up to 75 or 80mm it has more than 60% chance of getting ruptured.
- Symptoms When The Aneurysm Gets Ruptured :
It would cause sudden consistent abdominal pain, increasing pain over time, sweatiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sudden drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness.
Often, abdominal aortic aneurysm is detected while feeling the pulse of the abdomen for some other reasons. It can also be detected during routine medical examination of the chest X-ray and ultrasound of your heart. In case of doubt your doctor would order for special ultrasound scan of your abdomen or CT scan or MRI scanning. In a computer assisted scan, the device would gather signals from the thickened artery and displays it on the monitor, by assigning different colors for abnormal aorta. It is wise for elderly people to go for regular screening to rule out abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Surgery is the only choice of treating aortic aneurysm in the abdomen. But if the size of the aneurysm is small your doctor will wait to monitor its growth periodically. Abdominal aneurysm of size 55 mm or even lesser does not need to be operated. These people will have to go for regular checkups and the doctor will monitor the growth of aneurysm in the ultrasound test.
Since the surgery for repairing aortic aneurysm involves high risk, this option is selected only when the life of the patient is at stake and there is risk of rupture or internal bleeding. Any abdominal aneurysm above 55 cm needs to be operated. There are two options of surgery for treating abdominal aneurysm.
- Open surgery :
During this invasive surgery, the abdomen will be opened with a large incision, for repairing the aneurysm in the artery. The surgeon will cut open the damaged part of the aorta and replace it with a specially made synthetic tube.
- Endovascular Surgery :
When compared with the above surgery this carries less risk. The surgeon will gently insert a catheter through any of the major arteries of your leg and pass on a synthetic graft through the catheter to the place of damaged aorta in the abdomen. The graft would be fastened in the right place using small pins to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing. The patient can recover quickly in this process. But it is essential for the patient to make regular visits to the hospital for checkups and follow-up ultrasound testing.
Your doctor will consider several factors like your age, health condition, and the size of aneurysm before deciding on performing surgery. Both the surgery carries risk and the person can develop side effects after surgery also. Any rupturing of abdominal aortic aneurysm can be fatal and some people will die due to developing complications of vascular conditions like stroke or attack.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Pictures :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Lifestyle Changes :
- If you are detected with aortic aneurysm of small size you need to take efforts for preventing its further growth.
- You have to quit drinking and smoking since it can damage your heart and blood vessel even more.
- It is necessary to maintain your blood pressure by taking prescribed medications and by doing regular exercises.
- Avoid eating fatty foods and do regular exercises to keep your weight under control.
- Any excessive pressure on your arteries can increase the chance of rupturing.
You cannot totally prevent getting aortic aneurysm. But you can reduce the chances of developing aneurysm by going for regular checkups if you are above 60 years. Regular screening by ultrasound can clearly indicate any abnormality in the artery.