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Can an Aneurysm Go Undetected?

Can an Aneurysm Go Undetected?

It’s possible for an aortic aneurysm to go undetected. However, once detected, treatment can prevent a life-threatening rupture. Early detection is crucial. With the appropriate information, you can help avoid, detect, and treat an aortic aneurysm.

The team at Advanced Heart & Vascular Associates, led by vascular specialist Nader Chadda, MD, FACC, FSCAI, specializes in minimally invasive endovascular surgery. Because aortic aneurysms are more challenging to detect, it’s wise to learn more about these potential “silent killers” and take action when needed. 

What is an aortic aneurysm?

An aortic aneurysm is a bulge that develops in the biggest artery in the body, the aorta. Roughly 75% of aortic aneurysms are abdominal. All of the blood that leaves the heart is transported across the chest and belly via the aorta. If checking for an aortic aneurysm specifically isn’t done, it can be difficult to find on physical examination and go unnoticed for years. 

How does an aortic aneurysm go undetected?

Aortic aneurysms can, and often do, go undetected for long periods. In many cases, they occur without causing symptoms, making them invisible threats that lurk without your knowledge. Until the aortic aneurysm starts to tear, or bursts, most patients are unaware that anything is wrong.

This can result in a life-threatening hemorrhage, so it’s crucial to detect it before this point. Aortic aneurysms are commonly detected incidentally during routine health screenings or examinations for unrelated health issues. 

What are subtle signs to be aware of?

While many aortic aneurysms remain silent, some may cause subtle signs. Potential symptoms include a deep, constant pain in the abdomen, back pain, or a pulsating feeling near the navel. However, these symptoms can easily be dismissed or mistaken for things like muscle strain or gastrointestinal issues, which is why an aneurysm may go under the radar.

A proactive approach to detection

Given their ability to develop without obvious symptoms, aortic aneurysms need to be sought proactively, especially for individuals at higher risk. Factors that raise the risk of an aortic aneurysm include:

If you have risk factors that increase your risk, regular monitoring and screenings can be lifesaving.

How aneurysms are detected

As blood vessel walls weaken, the aneurysm can grow and is at risk of rupturing. Medical imaging plays an important role in identifying aortic aneurysms before they pose a severe threat. 

Key diagnostic tools include:

Ultrasound

This non-invasive test is particularly effective for screening abdominal aortic aneurysms and is recommended for men aged 65 to 75 who have a history of smoking.

CT scans

Offering detailed cross-sectional images of the body, CT scans can identify both the presence and size of an aneurysm.

MRI scans

By providing high-resolution images of the body's blood vessels, MRIs can detect aneurysms and help monitor their growth.

The value of early detection

Detecting aortic aneurysms early is paramount. Identifying an aneurysm before it ruptures allows Dr. Chadda to carefully monitor the aneurysm and intervene when deemed necessary to prevent a medical emergency. 

Depending on the size and growth rate of the aneurysm, treatment may involve regular monitoring to watch for changes, medication to manage blood pressure, and surgery to repair the aneurysm.

While aortic aneurysms can indeed progress undetected, awareness and proactive health screening play critical roles in uncovering this hidden danger. For those at risk, regular checkups and imaging tests are essential tools in the early detection and management of aortic aneurysms. 

You can reduce the risks associated with aortic aneurysms by staying vigilant for subtle signs. To schedule an aortic health screening, contact Advanced Hearth & Vascular Associates by calling or messaging us online. We have offices in Hudson and Brooksville, Florida. Take charge of your health, and keep your vascular system as healthy as possible.

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