An aneurysm is one of the leading causes of death. In fact, 13,000 deaths in the US is caused by an aneurysm. But what is aneurysm to begin with? How will you know you have it? Is there a way to treat it? Continue reading to know the 10 facts you should know about an aneurysm.
First off, here’s a short overview:
- An aneurysm is pronounced as AN-you-riz-um
- This life-threatening disease often occurs when the wall of the artery is weak. Then, a large bulge develops. This abnormally huge bulge have a tendency to erupt and cause an internal bleeding that can lead to death.
- It can grow in any part of your body but an aneurysm usually happens in the brain, spleen, aorta, and legs.
Aneurysm by Location
This type of an aneurysm does not show any symptom. It is developed in the blood vessels within the brain. It can be likened to a small berry in a tree branch. When the bulge erupts, it will lead to hemorrhagic stroke.
The most common symptom is when you are feeling the “worst” headache of your life. Other signs would be nausea, stiff neck, and blurred vision, to name a few.
The aorta is considered as the biggest blood vessel in your body. It is located at the left ventricle of your heart to the abdomen. If you have an aneurysm in the aorta, it is called arterial aneurysm. The common signs of this illness are leg, back, and abdominal pains.
In addition, there are two types of an aortic aneurysm:
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm: This kind of an aortic aneurysm is located at the thorax. This ailment will enlarge the upper part of your aorta. When not cured immediately, there is a huge chance for an aneurysm to pop or rupture.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm: This type happens on the aorta that is placed on the pathway of the abdomen. When you have this condition, you will most likely feel a throbbing sensation by your navel, back pain, and pain side of your abdomen.
This type of an aneurysm occurs rarely but can lead to death when not treated. In fact, only 1% of the population develops it in the area.
A leg aneurysm happens when there is a bulged blood vessel in your leg. It can occur in one leg or both legs. You may know you have it when you feel pain or numbness in your leg.
Risk Factors of Aneurysm
There is no actual cause of anuerysm but it can develop based on different predispositions. Here are some of the risk factors:
High blood pressure
When the pressure of the blood in your blood vessels increases or moves above its normal rate, there is a chance for the blood vessels to weaken or enlarge. When the blood vessels are damaged, it can become narrow, leak, or even rupture. It is important to note that the blood pressure that is normal for an adult is 120/80 mm Hg.
Having too much intake of drugs such as methamphetamine or cocaine can increase your risk of having an aneurysm. These drugs can inflame your blood vessels and increase your blood pressure level.
This risk factor is common for abdominal aneurysms. Smoking breaks the lining and walls of your arteries. When these are damaged, blood clots can happen. The clots are meant to protect the wall but instead makes your arteries even weaker.
This condition happens when the waxy substance called plaque builds up in your arteries. This substance hardens over time. Hence, it can restrict the flow of the oxygen in other parts of your body. This blockage can then be a factor for you to have an aneurysm.
An unfortunate risk factor is heredity. Those families with a history of an aneurysm have a chance to get the condition before they reach the age of 65.
According to George P. Teitelbaum, MD, a neurologist from the Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California, families that have at least two members with abdominal aortic aneurysm have a 15% chance that they got their condition from heredity.
Treatment Options and Preventive Measures
One way to address an aneurysm is through an open surgery. The surgeon will remove the damaged area out of your body and then use a graft for replacement.
There are also ways for you to prevent having an aneurysm or at least reduce the risk of a rupture. You can do any of the following:
- Stop smoking
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Limit your fat and salt intake
- Make sure that your weight is normal within the body mass index range.
- Do daily aerobic exercises
- Maintain a normal blood pressure by taking meta-blockers
Make sure that you also go through annual checkups. Since an aneurysm does not have a symptom, detection is often tricky. The best way you can do is to take preventive measures and visit your doctor regularly. Remember, it is always better to have your body checked than be surprised that you have a life-threatening condition.