FAQ - aortic aneurysm
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Aortic Aneurysm?

My nan suffers high blood pressure and hyper tension, I have just witnessed her look like she was going to die, I checked up a few things on the internet and in medical books, she has some symptoms of minor hypothermia and more importantly symptoms of an aortic aneurysm. She will NOT go to the hospital, and if we tell her she will leave straight away and won't let us contact her, she is 76 and lives on her own on a council estate, what can I do to help her either relief of symptoms or to persuade her to get medical attention? thanks

Abdominal aortic aneurysm
This factsheet is for people who have had an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) or for people who would like information on abdominal aortic aneurysms.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a dilation (widening or bulge) of a portion of the aorta, usually at a weak spot in the aortic wall. About 1 in 20 people in the UK over the age of 65 develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm. If an abdominal aortic aneurysm ruptures (bursts) it can be fatal. Surgery can repair the aorta - this can be emergency surgery if the aneurysm ruptures or elective (planned) surgery if a patient has an aneurysm that is large and the risk of rupture is high.

About aortic aneurysms
What is the aorta?
The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It carries all the blood that is pumped out of the heart and distributes it, via its many branches, to all the organs of the body. The aorta projects upwards from the heart in the chest and then arches downwards, travelling through the chest (the thoracic aorta) and into the abdomen (the abdominal aorta).

The normal diameter of the abdominal aorta is about 2 to 3cm (about 1 inch).

What is an aortic aneurysm?
An aortic aneurysm is a thin weakened section of the wall of the aorta that bulges outward. Most aortic aneurysms occur in the section of the aorta that passes through the abdomen and are called abdominal aortic aneurysms. A few occur in the part of the aorta in the chest that is near the heart, and are called thoracic aortic aneurysms.

As the wall of the aneurysm is weaker than a normal artery wall it may not withstand the pressure of blood inside. This may cause it to rupture (burst).

The chance of an abdominal aortic aneurysm rupturing depends on the size of it.

If the aneurysm is less than 5cm wide the chances of rupture are small (National Institute of Clinical Excellence - NICE - statistics show that for every 100 people with a small aneurysm, the aneurysm may rupture in up to 5 of those people after 8 to 9 years).
If the aneurysm is greater than 5cm wide the chances of rupture are higher (NICE statistics show that for every 100 people with a large aneurysm, the aneurysm may rupture in about 25 of those people after 8 to 9 years) - and the risk increases with increasing size.

Illustration of the aorta and an aneurysm

Many people have an abdominal aortic aneurysm for years before any symptoms develop, if they develop at all. If you do get symptoms, they may vary according to where the aneurysm is in your body. If an aneurysm is in your abdomen, symptoms may include:

a pulsating feeling in your abdomen
abdominal pain
back pain
If an abdominal aortic aneurysm becomes very large and ruptures (bursts) it can cause excruciating pain in the abdomen and back. A ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm causes severe internal bleeding which is often fatal unless emergency surgery is carried out to repair the rupture.

The main cause of aortic aneurysms is atherosclerosis. This is a condition in which fatty deposits are laid down in the walls of arteries. The deposit is called an atheroma. This weakens the wall and makes the walls less elastic and weaker as a result.

There are certain factors that may make you more likely to develop atherosclerosis and therefore an aortic aneurysm including:

your sex (men are more likely to develop an aortic aneurysm than women)
your age - aortic aneurysms are more common in older people - particularly in the 60-69 age group
your family history - men who have a first degree relative that have had an aortic aneurysm have a higher chance of having an aortic aneurysm
high blood pressure
if you do little physical activity
if you are overweight
Other less common causes of aortic aneurysm include:

trauma to the aorta, for example a crush injury to the chest following a car accident
certain infections including syphilis
rare hereditary conditions such as Marfan's syndrome (a major cause of thoracic aortic aneurysm, the type affecting the part of the aorta near the heart in the chest)
Abdominal aortic aneurysms can be diagnosed from their symptoms when they occur. They may also be found on routine physical examination and chest and abdominal X-rays.

When your doctor examines you, he or she may feel a pulsating mass in your abdomen which may be tender if an abdominal aortic aneurysm is large. If your doctor suspects an aneurysm, he or she will request tests including those below.

An abdominal ultrasound scan is the most common test to detect an aneurysm. It can also measure the size of the aneurysm. For more information on ultrasound scans please see the separate BUPA factsheet, Ultrasound.
Other scans such as computerised tomography (CT) may also be performed. This is very useful for determining the exact position of the aneurysm. For more information on CT scans, please see the separate BUPA factsheet, CT scan.
At present there is not a national screening programme to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms. However, the Government is considering plans to introduce a programme. Scans are available from private clinics and hospitals such as BUPA.

Your treatment for an aortic aneurysm will depend on your symptoms and the size of the aneurysm.

Emergency surgery is needed if an abdominal aortic aneurysm ruptures. This is a major operation and carries significant risks. A small number of people will die during, or shortly after, an emergency operation.

The decision to have elective surgery is based on the size of the aneurysm.

If you have a small abdominal aortic aneurysm (less than 5cm wide), the risk of death caused by surgery is higher than the risk of rupture. Therefore surgery is usually not advised but you will need regular ultrasound checks to see if the aneurysm grows over time. It will also be important to manage your condition by managing risk factors such as smoking and your diet.
If you have an aneurysm larger than 5cm wide, surgery is usually advised. For larger aneurysms the risk of rupture is usually higher than the risks of surgery. However, this will depend on your personal state of health. For some people the risks of surgery will still outweigh the benefits. Your doctor will discuss your options and advise you if surgery is the best treatment for you.
There are two main surgical options for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Open surgery
Aortic aneurysm (open surgery) animation

The Flash plug-in is required to view this animation.

In the traditional surgical method, your surgeon will make an opening in your abdomen. The blood vessel will then be opened at the site of the aneurysm and be replaced with a graft. The graft can be made with a piece of blood vessel taken from another place in the body or it can be synthetic. A synthetic graft is made out of an elastic material and is similar to a normal healthy aorta. It gives your artery support to prevent the aneurysm getting bigger.

Minimally invasive surgery and stent insertion
Aortic aneurysm (minimally invasive surgery) animation

The Flash plug-in is required to view this animation.

Alternatively your surgeon may place a stent graft into your aorta. A stent graft is a graft placed over an artificial piece of rigid tubing called a stent. This is a more recently developed minimally invasive technique and is not suitable for everybody. A small cut will be made in your groin and the stent graft will be passed up inside one of your leg arteries until it reaches the area of the aneurysm. The stent will be positioned so that your blood vessel is repaired and the aneurysm is protected from further pressure. This method does not involve open surgery.

Your surgeon will advise you which procedure is best for you.

There are several things you can do to reduce your chance of developing an aneurysm:

do not smoke
have your blood pressure checked regularly
exercise regularly
maintain a healthy weight
You should also have regular medical check ups if you have a family history of arterial disease so that any problems can be detected early.  (+ info)

aortic aneurysm?

An aortic aneurysm is a weakened and bulging area in the aorta, the major blood vessel that feeds blood to the body. The aorta, about the thickness of a garden hose, runs through the center of your body. Because the aorta is the body's predominant supplier of blood, a ruptured aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding. Although you may never have symptoms, finding out you have an aortic aneurysm can be more than unsettling. Each year, approximately 15,000 people die of an abdominal aortic aneurysm in the United States.

Most aneurysms are small and slow growing and rarely rupture. Less commonly, aneurysms are larger and faster growing and are at higher risk of rupturing. Depending on the size and rate at which it is growing, treatment for aortic aneurysm may vary from watchful waiting to emergency surgery. Once an aortic aneurysm is identified, doctors will closely monitor it so that surgery can be planned if and when necessary. Emergency surgery for a ruptured aneurysm carries increased risk and less chance of survival.  (+ info)

What are the symptoms of an aortic aneurysm in a horse?

I am writing a book and in the book a horse dies of an aortic aneurysm. When the horse is about to die, will it's breaths come short and in gasps? And What are the symptoms that a horse had an aortic aneurysm?

I'm guessing that it's the same as with people. Severe pain for a while. Then nothing.  (+ info)

How do you deal with an ascending aortic aneurysm?

My sister has an ascending aortic aneurysm measuring 5.3 cm. It hasn't grown over the past year. She quit smoking when it was diagnosed, but is lethargic, overweight, and suffering from anxiety. She put off surgery in order to loose weight and because the aneurysm hasn't grown. But she panics whenever she experiences an "odd" feeling. I don't know how to help her.

D...she needs this surgery 5.3 is big enough...I had mine fixed at 5.0 and I also had my aortic valve replaced at the same time. Do you guys have Bicuspid aortic valves...its a common occurence to have these 2 things together. The bicuspid foundation has a lot of info about ascending aortic aneurysms.

Here are a couple of web sites that will give you a lot of info you can trust.


A valve replacement may not be actually what she is needing at the moment but many people on there had both surgeries done (like me) at the same time to save another surgery in 10 yrs time to fix the valve. It will give you both a lot of useful info to think about.

I was not at all scared when I went for my surgery, I was actually excited to get that aneurysm gone so I wasnt in danger from it.  (+ info)

What exercise equip in the gym should be avoided with an slight an aortic aneurysm?

My husband has been diagnosed with a slight aortic aneurysm, he is 74 We have used equipment in the gym, elliptical, bike, weight lifting etc. He also spends at least time on an outdoor 2 mile walk. Are their some of these more dangerous now with this diagnosis?

Do you have any symptoms regarding bowel movement?

Our body, just like the universe, has a pattern which evolves through time. Therefore by including the concept of "time" into the diagnosis, we can predict the pattern of our body, like the way we can predict the patterns in the universe. I am a Licensed Acupuncturist who practices what I call "Time Medicine". For years, I perform my diagnosis by using your gender, birthdate, time of birth, and city and country of birth. I am able to immediately see the pattern, such as the physical appearance, the preference of food, the personality, and most importantly, accurately predict the time of event, and the type of disorder this person has. By understanding the constitution, I am able give my clients awareness as to how to prevent many ailments that may occur in their own pattern.
So did I answer your question?
Send a reply with the information of your gender, birthdate, time of birth, and city and country of birth.
Look forward to conversing with you.  (+ info)

Advice for a 92 yr old female just diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm?

My grandmother went in because they discovered a blood clot in her leg and had surgery to put a filter in to prevent and future clots from going to her heart or lungs. While she was there they discovered an aortic aneurysm and she has decided that "whatever will be will be". I can't say that I blame her but I would like to keep her around as long as she is comfortable so if anyone has any tips on what to do to accomplish that they would be greatly appreciated.

Well, here's some facts:
1. Technically, they can 'fix her'. However, at that age, it's riskier, not to mention the other complications she's had.
2. When it bursts, if it bursts, it will be a matter of minutes.
3. It may never burst.
Honestly, as far as how long she lasts, it's a toss up. Her doctor,I'm sure, has told you that.
As for respecting her wishes and keeping her comfortable, as far as I know, if she's in pain, it probably won't be much longer... if she's not, then keeping her comfortable is easy. Now, for keeping her alive...move her gently, she probably shouldn't walk around much, basically anything that keeps her blood pressure down and her heart rate normal is the key.
I wish you both well, and I hope that she has a restful time, however long that may be.  (+ info)

Does anyone have an Aortic Aneurysm and would like to talk about to to a pre-med student for her report?

I am a pre-med student at U of M and need to interview a person that has ever had aortic aneurysm repaired, please answer times running out :)

do you mean an abdominal aortic aneurysm  (+ info)

What kind of life time line would you give a 75 year old who have inoperable aortic aneurysm.?

My Father has an inoperable aortic aneurysm the size of 2 golf balls. What kind of life expectancy can I expect for him?

with good blood pressure management he may get as many yeras as he would have even if he did not have the aneurysm...it is very difficult to say and even the doctors can only give a guideline...there are several things that come into the equation...where the aneurysm is, ascending aorta, thoracic aorta, abdominal aorta??? how big it is...mine was 5 cm when I had it replaced with the dacron tubing...it was an ascending aortic aneurysm (the most deadliest if it burst).
His general health and lifestyle and his size all make differences to his life expectancy... His aneurysm could even possibly be inoperable because it is more dangerous for him to have the operation than live with it at present...which seems to say to me that he is in rather frail health at present...

I wish you and your dad all the very best...  (+ info)

Will most health insurances require that an aortic aneurysm > 4.5 cm before paying for surgery?

I am 37 year-old male who has been recently been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm in the area of 4cm. I will not know the exact size until 08/20. I am not going to be available for surgery for two years if I do not immediately go under the knife. Will most insurance companies pay for the surgery if the diameter is less than 4.5 cm? I currently have Humana and wonder about their coverage?

Insurance issues aside, most vascular surgeons wait until the aneurysm is 5cm or larger before operating. The exception is if the aneurysm started growing rapidly.

Why? Actually, it's simple. Numerous studies have shown that there is no mortality benefit to fixing a 'small' aneurysm. The risk from the surgery for a small AAA is actually higher than the risk from the aneurysm.

If the AAA is around 4cm, then we usually get annual ultrasounds.  (+ info)

How is blood flow and cardiac output in aortic aneurysm?

I think you have turbulent blood flow in aortic aneurymsms therefore high bp. But I don't get the blood pressure thing.
If they have high blood pressure, is blood flow to the body and organs good? Or do they have ischemia?

With high blood pressure this can be a sign of shock. The turbulent blood flow won't cause this. Shock being if this has ruptured. The high blood pressure could be the cause of the aneurysm secondary to an under lying cause.  (+ info)

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