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What an abdominal aortic aneurysm is

The aorta is the largest artery in the human body, about the size of a garden hose. It carries blood from the heart to the abdomen. Sometimes, a weak spot forms in the lower aorta. Blood pressure causes the wall of the aorta to swell outward and form a bulge. This bulge is an abdominal aortic aneurysm. A screening can detect it early enough that it can be treated by medication. The trouble is that since it often grows without symptoms, people who have it don’t know they need an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening.

Sometimes blood starts seeping out of the bulge, causing pain in the back or abdomen — the kind of pain no one can ignore. At this point, the aneurysm can still be repaired through surgery. If the patient is not lucky, the aneurysm bursts without warning, and the patient starts to bleed to death inside. The symptoms are intense pain, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart rate, clamminess, low blood pressure, and sometimes fainting and bruising along the sides. Even if the patient is rushed to a hospital, only half of those who suffer a burst anuerysm live longer than 30 days. There are good reasons why the abdominal aortic aneurysm is called “the widowmaker” and “the silent killer.”

Who is at risk

According to the CDC, abdominal aortic aneurysms directly cause the deaths over ten thousand Americans a year. An abdominal aortic aneurysm screening uses ultrasound to detect the condition. It is quick, safe, painless and reliable and you will probably only need to do it once in your life. Men with high blood pressure are most likely to need an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening.

Risk is particularly high for current or former smokers, even those who smoked only for brief periods in their lives, or those who have suffered an aortic infection. According to research recently published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, people with mild psoriasis are at roughly twice the risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and the risk is even greater for those with severe psoriasis.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening available in Matthews, NC

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 has a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm, or who is a man between the ages 65 and 75 who 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 want an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening, they are a part of 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.


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