We’re going to get straight to the question we pose in the title of this blog about whether there are any warning signs of an aortic aneurysm — in most cases, the answer is no. That said, it’s important to understand what happens when an aortic aneurysm bursts or leaks so that you can take immediate action.
With that in mind, the team here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists has pulled together some vital information about this potentially serious problem as we believe that education is key to safeguarding your heart health.
Aortic aneurysm 101
Your aorta is a large blood vessel that carries blood from your heart and through your chest and abdomen. With an aneurysm, a bulge forms in the wall of your aorta, leaving it more vulnerable to leaking or bursting, which can be a life-threatening situation.
There are generally two areas where an aneurysm can develop — in your chest, which is called a thoracic aortic aneurysm; and in your abdomen, which is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
It’s important to note that many aneurysms go undetected, and they never grow large enough to produce any symptoms. For those that do grow in size, however, problems can develop.
Symptoms of an aortic aneurysm
As we mentioned, most aortic aneurysms don’t present any symptoms, especially in their earlier stages. If they grow in size, you may start to experience some symptoms, which include the following for a thoracic aortic aneurysm:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Back pain
- Tenderness in your chest
If your abdominal aortic aneurysm grows large enough, you may experience discomfort in your abdomen, a pulsing sensation in your belly, and/or pain in your chest, lower back, and flanks.
If an aneurysm bursts, the symptoms are severe and life-threatening as blood spills out into your body. These symptoms include:
- Severe pain
- Shock resulting from a drop in blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
Should any of these symptoms occur, dial 911 immediately.
Risks for an aortic aneurysm
Since aortic aneurysms are difficult to identify, it’s important to have us screen you for your risks for developing one. Some of the more common risk factors include:
- A family history of aortic aneurysms
- Gender (men are more vulnerable)
- Age (65 and older)
- High blood pressure
- Marfan Syndrome
- Aortic valve issues
If any of these categories apply to you, it’s always a good idea to see us for a cardiovascular assessment, during which we can check your overall heart health, including whether an aneurysm is present.
To get started, contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up an appointment.