Understanding Your Aneurysm Risk Factors

Understanding Your Aneurysm Risk Factors

An aneurysm occurs in an area of damage or weakness in an artery. Many remain symptomatic throughout your life. However, they can eventually leak or rupture, causing severe health complications.

Our team at Premier Cardiology Consultants explains the potential health complications related to an aneurysm and the factors that increase your risk.

What is an aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a bulge or area of ballooning that occurs at a weak spot in an arterial wall. The bulge can grow larger over time and, much like an overfilled balloon, eventually rupture. This leads to internal bleeding, which requires immediate medical care to prevent death.

Aneurysms can occur throughout the body but are most common in the:

Thoracic aorta

This portion of the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body, passes through the chest.

Abdominal aorta

The abdominal aorta passes through the abdomen and branches into smaller arteries that supply blood to areas including the stomach, intestines, kidneys, lumbar spine, pancreas, and spleen.

Aneurysms can also develop in the vessels carrying blood to the brain (cerebral aneurysm) and the legs, groin, or neck (peripheral aneurysm).

What are the symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm?

An aneurysm near the surface may cause a noticeable bulge that’s painful and may appear to throb in time with your heartbeat. Otherwise, symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm depend on the artery affected. For instance, a ruptured cerebral aneurysm typically causes a sudden and severe headache, double vision, and loss of consciousness.

Rupture of a thoracic aortic aneurysm may cause sudden and severe chest or mid-back pain and numbness in the arms and legs. Severe abdominal pain, lower back pain, dizziness, and cold sweats often occur with the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).

Leaking aneurysms are those that have not yet ruptured but are likely on the verge. They typically cause similar but less severe symptoms than a ruptured aneurysm. Notably, a leaking or ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency that requires immediate care.

What increases my risk of an aneurysm?

Physicians don’t understand why some individuals develop aneurysms. However, conditions or habits that compromise the health of your blood vessels or circulatory system increase your risk. These include:

Males are also more likely to develop aneurysms than women. You can help reduce your risk factors by addressing the conditions or habits that may lead to an aneurysm.

How do you treat aneurysms?

Treatment depends on the size and location of the aneurysm. For smaller aneurysms, your Premier Cardiology Consultants provider may recommend routine follow-up appointments and diagnostic imaging scans to monitor for concerning changes.

An enlarging aortic aneurysm may respond well to minimally invasive surgery and stent placement to reinforce the weakened area. However, larger aortic aneurysms usually require more complex “open” surgery to repair the damaged artery.

Changes in diet, weight loss, treatment for high cholesterol, and other medical management can improve your arterial health and may help prevent aneurysm formation.

Schedule a visit today at Premier Cardiology Consultants for top-level cardiac care that includes evaluation and treatment for an aneurysm. Call the office or request more information using our secure online service.

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