If you’re at risk for an aneurysm, it’s crucial to know the signs so that you know when to seek immediate medical attention. An aneurysm develops when an area in an artery wall weakens and causes the walls to expand like a balloon and become thin.
If an aneurysm grows, there is a great risk of it rupturing, which can cause life-threatening bleeding. At Advanced Heart and Vascular Associates, cardiovascular specialist Nader Chadda, MD, FACC, FSCAI, diagnoses, evaluates, and manages conditions that impact the heart and vascular system, including aneurysms.
When an aneurysm is detected early, Dr. Chadda can help to prevent a rupture.
Understanding aortic aneurysms
The aorta is the largest artery in the body and the one most susceptible to developing an aneurysm. It’s tasked with carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An aortic aneurysm can develop in any part of the aorta. However, it most commonly develops in the part of the aorta that passes through the abdomen (abdominal aortic aneurysm).
Less commonly, an aortic aneurysm develops in the part of the aorta that travels through the chest (thoracic aortic aneurysm). In rare cases, a person may develop both types of aneurysms. Having an aneurysm in the chest is often related to certain genetic disorders. For example, patients with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a severe form of a genetic disorder that makes connective tissue fragile, are at risk for ruptures.
People with this form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome work closely with a multidisciplinary team.
Aneurysms that form elsewhere
An aneurysm can form in other blood vessels, such as those in the neck, leg, and kidney. It can also form in the brain. When a blood vessel forms in the brain, a neurologist or neurosurgeon comes on board as part of the team.
Know your risk
Knowing your personal risk for an aneurysm means that you can talk to Dr. Chadda about the best way to lower the chances of developing an aneurysm or having a catastrophic rupture.
Factors that weaken artery walls and raise the risk of an aneurysm include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Alcohol abuse
- Congenital abnormalities
If you have a family history of aneurysms, you’re also at a higher risk.
How to know if you have an aneurysm
Aortic aneurysms often cause no symptoms, so it’s difficult to know that you have one on your own. Aneurysms may go undetected for years, or are detected by chance from an unrelated scan. Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and angiogram are the only way to know if you have an aneurysm.
If you have risk factors for an aneurysm, it’s important to speak to a health care provider about the best way to manage those risks.
Aneurysms don’t always require treatment. If Dr. Chadda discovers a small aneurysm, he may monitor the growth. Some aneurysms do not grow or cause further problems. Depending on the size and other factors, Dr. Chadda may repair the affected blood vessel.
Because aortic aneurysms don’t go away, you may require surgery if you have a large one.
If you’re diagnosed with an aneurysm, it’s important to seek medical attention if you experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain or throbbing
- Swelling of the face or arms
Seek immediate emergency attention if you suddenly experience concerning symptoms such as trouble speaking or feeling like you’re going to pass out.
We urge anyone with concerns about their personal aneurysm risk or the management of an existing aneurysm to schedule a visit with Dr. Chadda to discuss the best approach. Call the office near you or request an appointment online to get started.
We have offices in Land O’ Lakes, Brooksville, and Hudson, Florida.