An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a condition wherein patient’s aorta expands by more than one and a half times of its original diameter. Aorta is an artery responsible for supplying oxygenated blood from the heart to all parts of body. Because of the kind of work that it performs, it is under constant pressure.
Every time the heart beats; the outer walls of the aorta expand and shrink; and if the aorta walls are weak then the pressure makes them weaker still; and as these walls continue to weaken the aneurysm goes on increasing in size. And bigger the size of aneurysm; greater are the chances of its rupture or hemorrhage.
And to deal with rupture leading to bleeding or to avoid rupture, surgery is the most recommended option.
In most cases abdominal aortic aneurysm doesn’t show any symptoms as such and doctor finds the condition accidentally while performing tests for other purpose. However patients who show symptoms complain of back pain, and discomfort in the belly, and chest area.
The symptoms may be there for an extended period of time or may even come and go intermittently. The condition is diagnosed via CT scan MRI, ultra sound and Angiogram.
The abdominal aortic aneurysm is as the name suggests located below the kidneys and is also referred to as an infrarenal aneurysm. This condition is also diagnosed because of its peculiar location, shape, and cause.
Shapes of aneurysm also differ from case to case. While some of them are visible on all sides of wall; some protrude or become balloon like only on one side.
What Causes AAA or Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?
Though it is difficult to put a finger on the exact cause behind this condition; there could be many factors responsible for this condition. The most important and common reason for it is plaque; built-up of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin deposit etc in the inside layer of an artery.
Aorta walls are generally flexible and perform functions related to flow of blood. But these walls sometimes get stiffened due to high blood pressure; or plaque build up, which gradually go to weaken the walls. Obesity could also be one of the reasons.
It all starts when the walls begin to show weakening when the protein structure of the aortic wall providing support and stability to the wall begins to show signs of damage or break down. Following are some of the reasons for this condition. More than one condition can be present in the patient.
Advancing age is the uppermost factor for these deposits; this condition is five times more likely to hit men than women; high blood pressure; high levels of fats found in blood; genetic causes; may get passed down from blood relations; blood sugar; tobacco are some of the other reasons for this condition to show up.
Other than the above there are some diseases that can give rise to this condition. Some of these could be present in an individual at birth and some he might have acquired during his life cycle as a result of exposure to various environmental factors and infections.
Genetic abnormalities such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; polycystic kidney disease: Marfan syndrome; and, Turner’s syndrome; that are related to connective tissue, and can cause deterioration of bones, cartilage, heart, and blood vessels.
Abnormalities present at the time of birth like coarctation of the aorta, & bicuspid aortic valve etc can also lead to this condition.
Giant cell arteritis is an artery related disease which can cause inflammation of the temporal and other arteries of neck and head, which shrinks the arteries and blood flow, gets hindered in the affected areas; it also sometimes leads to patients experiencing persistent headaches and loss of vision. Infections like syphilis, salmonella, or staphylococcus.
Treatments may include healthy diet, exercising, regular check ups, preventives to stop the walls from weakening any further; medicinal courses and surgery.
Treatments will be prescribed after taking following things pertaining to the patient into consideration; his age; her/his present health status and history; stage of condition, i.e.
The extent to which walls have weakened, how big is the Aneurysm, and how fast is it growing; symptoms; medicinal allergies; patient’s strength to heal; his tolerance to procedures & therapies, and patient’s own outlook.
People at risk of this disease can overcome it by eating a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding stress and smoking.
If the individual is in advanced stage of this condition, the complications that may occur could be a rupture that could lead to extremely dangerous consequences that could sometimes lead to death of patient.
If medical assistance is provided in time around forty percent patients can survive the crises. The other complication arising out of this situation is called aortic dissection, in which the innermost lining of the artery gets torn; as a result of this blood starts leaking into the walls of arteries. Other complications may include stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, arterial embolism, etc.