Aortic aneurysm enlarges and weakens the wall of aorta
The heart muscles work unceasingly through lives and could well be said to be the most important muscle in the body. It cleans the blood, making it oxygen-rich and fresh. This blood then leaves the heart through the aortic valve and is transported by the aorta – the largest blood vessel in our body – to other parts of the body.
However, despite its strength, sometimes the aorta weakens and develops problems. When the walls of the aorta weaken, it causes certain parts of the aorta to enlarge or balloon out. This condition is called aortic aneurysm. If the balloon-like formation bursts – the larger it is, the more chances of it bursting – it could prove to be life-threatening. This condition is generally seen in males above the age of 60.
“No one knows the exact reasons for this enlargement of the aorta, though genetic factors and lifestyle choices have been said to play a part. Among the broad risk factors said to be responsible for the onset of aortic aneurysm are age, gender, smoking, high blood pressure, connective tissue disorders, family history of aortic aneurysms, among others,” said Dr Murali Krishna Nekkanti, Prof and HOD, Dept of Vascular Surgery, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research.
Aortic aneurysms are largely located in two places in the human body – the chest (known as thoracic aortic aneurysm), and abdomen (abdominal aortic aneurysm). The symptoms of thoracic aortic aneurysm include pain in the chest/back, difficulty/shortness in breathing, Hoarseness of voice and coughing, among others. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm the symptoms include pain in abdomen and back ache.
“Aortic aneurysms can be treated through open-surgery, and Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR), which is a less invasive procedure than open-surgery. But due to less invasive procedures with faster recovery time, the Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR) is the preferred one. However, the procedure of treatment varies from patient to patient considering individual conditions. Various factors such as aortic anatomy, current health condition, the extent of the aortic aneurysm, and related risk factors, among others, should be assessed carefully, before deciding on the line of treatment,” said Dr Krishna.
A vascular surgeon can decide optimal treatment for a particular patient with aortic aneurysm. EVAR – Endovascular Aneurysm Repair is minimally invasive procedure wherein a stent graft (stent covered with fabric) is introduced through groin and deployed in aneurysm which will exclude blood flow into the bulge (aneurysm) thereby preventing risk of rupture.
People with aortic aneurysm runs the risk of having the affected part rupture. That, of course, depends on the patient’s medical condition and genetics. Usually, that happens when the aorta gets dilated beyond 5.5 cm. Such a rupture would prove to be fatal to the patient.
“Make sure you stay away from tobacco, monitor your BP and diabetes regularly. Avoid self-medication in case of any symptoms and Meditation helps in keeping BP under control,” concluded Dr Murali Krishna.