Image courtesy of

No symptoms, no warning, not much chance

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is one of the most dangerous health problems you can have, because it often develops without symptoms and turns into a medical emergency without warning. The aorta is an artery about the size of a garden hose which carries blood from the heart down into the abdomen. When a weak spot forms in the lower aorta, it swells and forms a bulge. This bulge is an abdominal aortic aneurysm. It is like a time bomb in the lower torso.

Sometimes blood seeps out of the bulge, causing intense, throbbing pain no one can ignore. At this point, there is still time for surgery. But too often time runs out the bulge just pops without warning, and the patient starts to bleed to death inside. The symptoms are intense pain, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, clamminess, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. There may also be fainting and bruising along the sides. Even if the patient is taken straight to a hospital and the doctors recognize the symptoms immediately, only half of those who suffer a burst anuerysm live longer than 30 days.

Those most at risk

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2009, abdominal aortic aneurysms killed 10,597 people in the U.S., and contributed to the deaths of over 17,000 more. The people most likely to need an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening are men who have high blood pressure or have suffered an aortic infection. Risk is particularly high for current or former smokers, even if they maintained the habit for less than a year. According to a study published in mid-February in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, asthma medication users are also at greater risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms, and those who have recently been diagnosed with asthma are at much greater risk of aneurysm rupture.

AAA screenings in Matthews, NC

The good news is that there are screenings available for abdominal aortic aneurysms. These screenings are quick, safe, painless and reliable, using ultrasound to detect the condition. You will probably only need to get one screening in your lifetime.

In January of 2007, a federal law went into effect that made free one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings available for any Medicare Part B enrollee who either has a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm, or is a man between the ages 65 and 75 and has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in his lifetime. If you are outside this age range or are not enrolled in Medicare Part B, but you are interested in an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening, they are included in the subscription medical practice at the Conner Family Health Clinic in Matthews, NC. Dr. Conner is on call 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Make an appointment today.


Rating: 9 out of 10 (from 56 votes)