An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery that can be incredibly dangerous if it bursts. These can occur in different parts of the body, and while some may never rupture, others can lead to life-threatening internal bleeding.
At Advanced Heart and Vascular Associates, Dr. Nader Chadda, FACC, FSCA, and our experienced team know that understanding the symptoms and immediate actions to take can save lives. Keep reading to learn the sudden symptoms of an aneurysm and what to do if you or a loved one experiences them.
Sudden symptoms to look out for
The symptoms of an aneurysm can vary greatly, depending on factors such as the location. However, when it's about to rupture or has already done so, you'll most likely experience sudden and severe pain. The following is detailed information about typical symptoms based on the type of aneurysm:
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
The aorta is the main vessel supplying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An abdominal aortic aneurysm may feel like a pulsing feeling near the navel or deep, constant pain in your abdomen or on the side of your abdomen. Back pain is also common.
If it ruptures, there will be sudden, severe pain, often described as a tearing sensation, in the lower abdomen and back, along with symptoms of shock such as rapid heartbeat and light-headedness.
Thoracic aortic aneurysm
When the aneurysm is in the upper part of the aorta, near the heart, it's called a thoracic aortic aneurysm. Symptoms can include sharp, sudden pain in the upper back that radiates downward, trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing, and loss of consciousness.
Often, brain aneurysms go unnoticed until they rupture. When this happens, you might experience what is commonly called "the worst headache of your life" that comes on abruptly. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. In severe cases, a ruptured brain aneurysm can lead to loss of consciousness or even death.
Peripheral aneurysms are less common and often have fewer symptoms. You may notice a lump or swelling in the affected limb, experience pain, or even suffer from ischemia — in which blood flow is restricted, causing tissue damage. When these rupture, severe pain and bleeding into the tissue of the limbs are likely.
Splenic artery aneurysm
This type of aneurysm occurs near the spleen. It can cause abdominal pain or tenderness and might lead to rupture, which would be a medical emergency due to the risk of internal bleeding.
How are aneurysms diagnosed and treated?
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it's crucial to get medical help immediately. Diagnosis usually involves imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scans, and MRI.
Treatment for an aneurysm depends on its location, size, and likelihood of rupture. Small aneurysms may not require treatment; instead, they are monitored closely.
Minimally invasive procedures, such as vascular stenting, have revolutionized the field of aneurysm treatment, offering less risky and quicker recovery options. Vascular stenting involves inserting a mesh-like tube, or stent, into the affected artery to support its walls and relieve pressure on the aneurysm.
Conducted under local anesthesia and guided by advanced imaging techniques, the procedure allows doctors to access the affected area through a small incision, usually in the groin. Patients often experience significant relief from symptoms and a reduced risk of aneurysm rupture.
While aneurysms can't always be prevented, managing risk factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and avoiding smoking can make a significant difference. Regular checkups and early diagnosis are key in managing the risks associated with aneurysms effectively.
When to seek medical help
The symptoms of an aneurysm can be both subtle and dramatic. Understanding the sudden symptoms and acting promptly can make all the difference in an emergency situation. Trust your instincts and never hesitate to seek medical help if you suspect you or someone close to you might be experiencing an aneurysm.
To learn more, schedule a visit with the Advanced Heart and Vascular Associates team today. Our offices are located in Hudson and Brooksville, Florida. Your life and peace of mind are too important to leave to chance. Trust us to be your partner in cardiovascular health.