Aneurysm

General Illness Information

Common Name:
ANEURYSM

Medical Term: None Specified

Description:

Weakness in the wall of an artery is causing an abnormal enlargement or bulge. Aneurysms may be round (saccular) or tube-like (fusiform) swellings. Majorities are fusiform in shape.

Aneurysms usually affect the aorta (major artery in the chest and abdomen) but may affect other arteries e.g. those that supply the brain, legs, or heart wall.

Aneurysms can develop anywhere along the aorta. However, 75% occur in the abdominal aorta.

Causes:

  • Aneurysm are primarily caused by the following:
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Congenitally weak artery (especially with aneurysms in blood vessels to the brain). Syphilis or infection in the aorta caused by syphilis (rare). Injury.

Prevention:

Aneurysm’s can be prevented by doing the following:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Maintain adequate nutrition and a low fat diet.
  • Obtain early treatment for syphilis.
  • Follow your treatment program to control high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Reduce stress.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms vary according to which artery is affected:

  • Thoracic (chest) aortic aneurysm produces pain in the chest, neck and upper back and cough and wheezing. The pain may be sudden and sharp. Some may present with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) or with hoarseness.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm produces back pain (sometimes severe), appetite and weight loss, and a pulsating mass in the abdomen.
  • Aneurysm in a leg artery causes poor circulation in the leg, with weakness and pallor or swelling and bluish color.
  • A pulsating mass may appear in the groin or behind the knee.
  • Aneurysm in a brain artery produces headache (often throbbing), weakness, paralysis or numbness, pain behind the eye, vision change or partial blindness, and unequal pupils.

Risk Factors

  • Adults over 60
  • Previous heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Family history of atherosclerosis
  • Polyarteritis nodosa (inflammation of the small and medium arteries)
  • Bacterial endocarditis (infection of the heart lining)

Diagnosis & Treatment

General Measures:

  • Many people with aneurysm have no symptoms and are diagnosed by chance during a rontine physical examination or when x-rays are ordered for some other reason.
  • Medical tests include laboratory blood studies of clotting, ECG, X-rays of blood vessels (angiography), other X-rays, CT scan, ultrasound or MRI.
  • On a physical examination, a doctor may feel a pulsating mass in the mid-line of the abdomen. However, in an obese patient even a large aneurysm may not be detected.
  • Early detection and treatment before rupture are essential Surgery to replace the diseased vessel or close off the aneurysm An aneurysm to the brain requires emergency surgery. Surgery for other types of aneurysms may be scheduled at a convenient time Following surgery, follow up with FD is important to monitor and control your blood pressure

Medications:

Following surgery, anticoagulants to prevent blood-clot formation, pain relievers Antibiotics to prevent infection may be prescribedю

Activity:

Avoid heavy exertion or straining prior to surgery. After surgery, resume normal activities gradually.

Diet:

Before surgery, eat a high-fiber diet so you can avoid straining during bowel movements. After surgery, no special diet is necessary.

Possible Complications :

  • Stroke
  • Rupture of the aneurysm

Prognosis

Often curable with surgery to replace the diseased vessel with grafts (artificial vessels).

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