St. Joseph Health System
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What is an aneurysm?
An Aneurysm is a bulging of an artery caused by uncontrolled hypertension, injury, or weakening of the artery itself. The pressure from blood flow against the arterial wall causes the Aneurysm to slowly grow in size, giving it its bulging characteristic. Typically, Atherosclerotic disease (plaque buildup within the arterial wall) is present.

The most common aneurysms arise in the largest artery in the body: the aorta. This condition affects over 200,000 Americans and is referred to as an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).

AAA is a condition that claims the lives of 15,000 Americans every year. As the aneurysm continues to grow, it has the potential to rupture or leak. This rupture often leads to death. It is vital to detect an AAA at its earliest stages so it can be promptly treated.

What are the warning signs and symptoms of an Aneurysm?
The majority of people who experience abdominal aortic aneurysm do not have any symptoms. However, AAA is most common among the following groups of people:

  • Those who are over the age of 60
  • 70% to 80% of AAA's occur in males
  • Those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and smokers

If you have one or more of the above risk factors, we recommend that you discuss with your doctor certain tests that can detect an AAA early so it may be properly treated. Often, people will experience the following symptoms that suggest the presence of AAA:

  • Pain in the abdomen, back, or side
  • An overwhelming feeling of "fullness" after eating even a small amount of food
  • Frequent nausea and vomiting
  • Pulsating in the abdomen

If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should be evaluated by your doctor immediately. Prompt action may prevent a life-threatening situation.

How is an Aneurysm detected?
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are sometimes detected during routine physical examinations. Your physician may hear pulsations in your abdomen through a stethoscope. However, they are usually difficult to detect.

What are the treatment options for an Aneurysm?
Once an aneurysm (including AAA) is diagnosed, your physician will determine the appropriate treatment, depending upon its size and location. Both surgical and non-surgical options may be available.
For a referral to a St. Joseph's cardiologist call 979.821.7589. 

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