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Aortic Aneurysm - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Sep 17, 2021 and last reviewed on Apr 20, 2022   -  4 min read

Abstract

An aortic aneurysm can occur anywhere in the body and can be missed during diagnosis. It can cause serious complications if ruptured. This article explains the aortic aneurysm in detail.

Contents
Aortic Aneurysm - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Introduction:

An aneurysm is clinically characterized by weakening of the walls of arteries which leads to an abnormally large bulge within the artery. This bulge has the potential to burst or rupture and thus, cause internal bleeding. It can occur anywhere in the body, but the most commonly involved body parts are the brain, legs, aorta, and spleen.

How Is Aortic Aneurysm Caused?

The exact causative factor has not been known yet, but many factors are known to be related to this condition. One of the explained pathophysiologies is damaged arteries due to blockages caused by fatty deposits, etc., which makes the heart put extra effort and pump harder than usual to push out blood crossing the fatty deposits in the artery. Thus, the increased pressure within the arteries can damage the arteries more. The following conditions are known to be associated with aortic aneurysm:

1. Atherosclerotic Disease:

This condition has shown the development of an aortic aneurysm as a sequela. Patients suffering from the atherosclerotic disease have fatty deposits or plaque accumulation in their arteries. Plaque acts as a barrier and thus, prevents the free flow of blood within the arteries.

2. High Blood Pressure:

Another major causative factor for an aneurysm is increased blood pressure. It is a measure of the amount of force of circulating blood on the walls of arteries. If the pressure rises above the normal level, it can cause weakening or enlargement of the blood vessels.

The normal blood pressure level is 120/80 mm Hg which can range between 110/70 - 140/90 mm Hg.

If there is a constant rise in the blood pressure levels, it increases the risk of various disorders of the heart, blood vessels, and circulation.

What Are The Different Types Of Aneurysms?

As mentioned earlier, aneurysms can occur anywhere in the body, and they are classified based on their anatomical location as follows;

1. Aorta:

The aorta is known to be the largest blood vessel in the body. It starts at the left ventricle of the heart and goes down the abdomen, and finally splits to reach both legs. The aorta is considered to be the most common site for arterial aneurysms.

2. Brain:

Aneurysms can be found in the brain, and they can vary in size. More commonly, they occur in blood vessels that lie deep inside the brain. Sometimes they can be asymptomatic, and thus, the diagnosis could be missed. Some patients develop bleeding due to aneurysms in the brain.

3. Various Other Sites:

Various other sites that can be affected due to aneurysms are the artery behind the knee and arteries of the spleen, intestines, etc.

What Are The Symptoms Associated With Aortic Aneurysm?

Signs and symptoms associated with an aneurysm depend on the anatomic location and type. Some may even be asymptomatic. Many aneurysms start showing symptoms only after they rupture. Aneurysms presenting near the body surface can cause swelling with pain. There are also chances for the development of a large mass.

When an aneurysm ruptures, it shows the following signs and symptoms:

If not managed at a proper time, it can lead to serious complications and even death.

What Are The Risk Factors of Aortic Aneurysm?

Males are known to have an increased risk of developing an aneurysm than females. Even elderly people who are above 60 years may develop it. Following are the various other risk factors associated with aneurysms:

  1. Consumption of a high fat diet.

  2. Family history is specific to heart disorders like a heart attack.

  3. Obesity.

  4. Smoking.

  5. Pregnancy - This increases the risk of developing an aneurysm in the spleen.

How Can Aortic Aneurysm Be Diagnosed?

When you visit your physician, you will be asked about your signs and symptoms, personal history, family history, etc. Following that physical examination will be carried out. The various tools that are used to examine depend on the location of the aneurysm. You will most probably be referred to a cardiothoracic or vascular surgeon for further diagnosis. Various commonly used examination tools for checking aneurysms in the body are CT scans and ultrasound.

How Can Aortic Aneurysm be Treated?

The treatment depends on the anatomical location and type of the aneurysm. One preferred treatment is an endovascular stent graft which is done in cases with aneurysms in the chest or abdomen area. It is a minimally invasive procedure that is preferred over surgical management. Surgical management involves open surgery where the repairing and reinforcing blood vessels are involved. Also, the stent decreases the chances of scarring, infection, and various other issues.

Various other treatment modalities available are medications to treat high blood pressure and increased cholesterol. Certain beta-blockers can also be used to maintain or lower blood pressure. Maintaining or lowering the blood pressure can prevent rupture of aneurysm.

How Can Aortic Aneurysm Be Prevented?

There are certain measures that you can take to prevent the development of an aneurysm.

  1. Healthy Diet - It should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Other good options are meat and poultry, which are low in saturated fat and cholesterol as they provide protein. Low-fat dairy products can also be consumed as they are known to be beneficial.

  2. Exercise Regularly - Doing cardio exercises can improve the healthy circulation of blood, especially through the arteries, heart, and various other blood vessels.

  3. Quit Smoking.

  4. Annual Checkup - If you have any family history or associated risk factors, get your annual checkup done regularly.

Conclusion:

Aortic aneurysms can occur anywhere in the body and are mostly asymptomatic but may show signs and symptoms if they rupture. It is necessary to get annual checkups done to prevent any serious complications. Online medical platforms have made contacting a specialist easy, especially during this pandemic time. To know more about aortic aneurysm consult a specialist online.

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Last reviewed at:
20 Apr 2022  -  4 min read

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Jagruti Jain
Jagruti Jain
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What Is an Aneurysm? The enlargement of an artery caused by weakness in the wall of the artery, is called an aneurysm. Usually, an aneurysm does not cause any symptoms. But it can cause fatal complications if it ruptures. As the artery wall is weakened in a spot, it results in a bulge or distention,...  Read Article

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