It can be found using an ultrasound. This circle indicates where doctors have found an aortic aneurysm. “The aorta is the major blood vessel in the body. It starts from the heart, and it goes down through the chest into the abdomen. It’s like a straight tube,” explained Dr. Ronnie Word, a vascular surgeon with Lee Health.
In the abdomen, the aorta can dilate--causing an aneurysm. “There’s not really a specific cause for it,” he said.
But there are things that can put you at risk for developing an aortic aneurysm — things like smoking, high blood pressure, age, even genetics.
“Most people don’t have any symptoms. And most people don’t know they have it. When you have symptoms, it’s usually a bad sign. Usually, the symptom is excruciating abdominal pain or back pain, and that usually means this thing is big enough to rupture,” said Dr. Word.
An aortic aneurysm takes years to develop. If found, doctors will monitor patients with yearly ultrasounds to make sure the aneurysm doesn’t grow larger than 5.5 cm.
“The treatment depends on the size. Most aneurysms are seldom to rupture. The risk of rupture relates to the size. When they are large, really large, then the rupture risk increases,” he explained.
If an aneurysm ruptures, it could be fatal for the patient—which is why if an aneurysm keeps growing, doctors may decide to do surgery. “The most common way to fix it is through the stent because it’s less invasive. People can go home the next day,” Dr. Word said.
Because nearly one million Americans are living with an aortic aneurysm, screening is available for patients at risk. Improving your lifestyle and knowing your risk could prevent an aneurysm from developing. time and money— but it can also help children develop a healthy lifestyle.