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Major cause of death

Abdominal aortic aneurysms are the third leading cause of death in men over 60. They often grow in the body without symptoms or warning signs. Getting an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening is fast, painless and reliable, and you probably won’t need to do it more than once.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the lower aorta — the largest artery in the human body, roughly the size of a garden hose — formed by blood pressure on a weak spot in the wall of the aorta. The wall grows thinner where it stretches, sometimes causing pain in the abdomen or chest.

In some cases, blood seeps out of the swollen area, causing intense pain and a throbbing sensation that drives the patient to the hospital. But too often, the aneurysm bursts without warning, causing internal blood loss that is fatal if not treated immediately. The symptoms of this are intense pain, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, clamminess, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and sometimes fainting and bruising. Even if the patient is taken to a hospital right away, only half of those who suffer a burst anuerysm live longer than 30 days. It is often called the “silent killer” and “the widowmaker.”

Risk factors

Abdominal aortic anuerysms are more likely in men who smoke or used to smoke, or who have suffered an infection in the aorta. High blood pressure, psoriasis and asthma are also risk factors, and if you’ve ever had a family member suffer from an abdominal aortic aneurysm, you are also at risk. Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms is a quick, safe and painless procedure that uses ultrasound, similar to what is used for pregnant women. Small aneurysms can be treated through medication, but bigger ones need surgery. If your doctor detects an aneurysm, he or she will be able to tell you which is the best option in your case.

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. But abdominal aortic aneurysms have also been known to happen to women and younger people, so if you feel any of the symptoms and have some of the other risk factors, it might be worth getting a screening.

The Conner Family Health Clinic in Matthews, NC is an excellent place to get a screening. Dr. Conner is on call 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and abdominal aortic aneurysm screening is a part of his subscription medical practice. Schedule a screening today, and you may save your life.

 

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