(Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm)



An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of the main blood vessel in the abdomen—the aorta. This is a common occurrence, found in about 3 million Americans. It generally grows slowly, over years. As it gets bigger and bigger, the risk of rupture gets higher. This is similar to overblowing a balloon and having it pop. Unfortunately though, when an aneurysm ruptures, it causes severe bleeding into the abdomen, and often, death.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm are most commonly found in men, over the age of 60, who are or were smokers. These patients often have had high blood pressure for many years. Aneurysms are usually asymptomatic but can be diagnosed as a pulsatile(beating) mass in the abdomen, by chance on a CT scan or Xray, or on a screening ultrasound. They can cause severe abdominal,back, or flank pain, dizziness, rapid heart bead, or shock when they rupture. When an aortic aneurysm ruptures, the mortality rate is over 80%. Therefore, Medicare has instituted a screening program in all men as they become 65 years of age, if they have smoked more than 200 cigarettes (10 packs) over their lifetime.

It has become more difficult to pick up aneurysms on exam as the population has become more overweight. Thus doing a simple ultrasound to look for this is extremely important. We, at South Bay Vasc​ular Center, actively educate patients and physicians about the importance of doing this easy, quick, and painless exam.

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