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Abdominal aortic aneurysms screening

An abdominal aortic aneurysm screening can save your life. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a very bland and complicated name for a medical problem that can kill you in minutes with no warning of any kind.

This is how it happens. The aorta is the largest artery in the human body — about the size of a garden hose — and it carries blood from the heart to the abdomen. Many things can happen to weaken it. Smoking can lead to hardening of the arteries, which results in weak points. Infection in the aorta, known as vasculitis, can also weaken the aortic wall.

When the wall of the aorta weakens, your own blood pressure causes it to bulge out at the weak spot, forming a balloon in your abdomen. This is the aneurysm, and men are four times as likely to suffer it as women. The pressure from the expanding aneurysm may cause pain in the chest or abdomen. Or it may not.

In the best case scenario, the balloon leaks. This causes deep pain and a throbbing sensation in the back or abdomen. This is a sign that it is time for surgery.

In the worst case scenario, the balloon pops. Severe pain, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, clamminess, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and possible fainting and bruising along the sides are warning signs of the sudden, massive internal bleeding that is happening now. At this point, the odds are very bad. Even when hospitals are nearby, many patients never make it to the operating table, and of those who live long enough to undergo surgery, only 50 percent survive longer than 30 days. There is a good reason why abdominal aortic aneurysms are called the Silent Killer.

The screening process

In an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening, the doctor uses ultrasound to check the shape of the aorta for unexpected bulges. This is a safe, quick and painless procedure.

If an aneurysm is detected, your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. A small aneurysm can be treated with medication, while a larger one will need surgery.

Where to get one in Matthews, NC

If you are a man age 65 to 75, even if you have never smoked, it is recommended that you get at least one abdominal aortic aneurysm screening in your lifetime. The Conner Family Health Clinic in Matthews, NC is a very good place to get a screening. Dr. Will Conner is on call 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings are a part of his subscription medical practice.

Remember that an abdominal aortic aneurysm may not give you any warning at all. Give yourself peace of mind by making an appointment to get a screening today.

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