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Abdominal aortic aneurysm warning signs

Early in March, Mr. Thomas began feeling a pulsing sensation, off and on, near his navel. He was a little over sixty, and he didn’t know it yet, but this was one of the luckiest days of his life.

Mr. Thomas was, as far as he knew, in reasonably good health. He didn’t drink much, and he had quit smoking thirty years ago and never looked back. And the pulsing didn’t feel like much, so he ignored it at first, assuming it would go away.

Instead, it got worse. It turned into a throbbing sensation like a drumbeat, backed up by a dull ache in his side and back. Every day, it got harder to work around. Finally, he decided to get a medical checkup, just in case. Since he had a subscription medical plan, it was easy to make an appointment.

Mr. Thomas described his symptoms to the doctor, who immediately ordered an ultrasound test. This was a quick, painless and safe procedure. What it uncovered, however, was anything but safe — an abdominal aortic anuerysm. The doctor prescribed an antihypertensive agent and recommended he return soon for surgery.

What an abdominal aortic aneurysm is

The aorta is an artery about the size of a garden hose, and it carries blood from the heart down into the abdomen. When a weak spot forms in the lower aorta, it swells to form an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Mr. Thomas was lucky in that the growth of the aneurysm caused him some discomfort — too often the problem develops with no symptoms at all.

Sometimes blood seeps out of the aneurysm, causing a much more intense pain. At this point, there is still time for surgery. Blood clots can also form in the area of an aneurysm and damage other organs.  But if the aneurysm explodes, the patient starts bleeding to death. The symptoms are intense pain, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, clamminess, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. There may also be bruising along the sides. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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, have ever smoked or have suffered an aortic infection.

AAA screenings 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 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.

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