Aneurysm is a balloon like bulge in the oxygenated blood carrying vessels (known as arteries) in the human body. It occurs when the otherwise thick walls of arteries get damaged due to genetic abnormality, underlying medical condition or trauma (injury) thus the force of the flowing blood pushes the walls leading to a bulge.
An Aneurysm can occur in any part of the body but the most common sites include aorta (chest or abdomen), Brain, Legs and Spleen. It’s not dangerous until it ruptures and can be fatal. Leaking of blood from a dissecting aneurysm can cause altered functions.
Types of Aneurysm
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm – It occurs in the aorta which supplies oxygenated blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs. Men above the age of 60 years who have a family history, or High blood pressure, or have habit of smoking or are obese are more prone towards it. Rupturing of this aneurysm calls for medical emergency as the survival rate is only 20 percent. Extreme belly or back pain which doesn’t go indicates rupturing.
- Cerebral Aneurysm – It occurs in almost 5 percent of the population and most common is berry aneurysm in individuals who have a family history at high risk. Atheroscleoris, injury or infection, polycystic kidney disease or endocarditis weakens the vessel walls leading to aneurysm formation. Symptoms of ruptured aneurysm include headache, double vision, eye pain, neck pain or stiff neck.
- Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm – The ballooning occurs in the aorta which passes through the chest. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of this aneurysm. Syphilis, injury or trauma and aging are some of the risk factors. Symptoms occur when the blood starts to leak into nearby tissue and symptoms include swallowing difficulties, chest or upper back pain, hoarseness, nausea and vomiting, clammy skin and rapid heart rate.
Aneurysms are kind of silent killer. The deeper aneurysm develop over the years without any symptoms whereas the one near skin surface looks like a throbbing painful mass and has swelling too. The silent aneurysms show symptom when they start leaking or rupture. These include dizziness or light headedness, clammy skin, rapid heart rate and pain. If medical help is not provided on time, rupturing can lead to death.
A doctor may advise to go for ultrasound or CT scan or MRI for finding aneurysm.
- A diet high in fat or cholesterol
- Family History of Heart attack or any other heart disease
- Pregnancy – increases risk of spleen aneurysm
The treatment of Aneurysm depends on its location and the severity. Care should be taken that the aneurysm doesn’t rupture. If it does, then you need to get admitted into hospital as it’s a medical emergency.
Some of the methods include:
- Cerebral Aneurysm – it is treated either by surgical clipping or endovascular coiling. Surgical clipping involves removing a section of the skull to get access to the aneurysm and then clipping off the blood flow to it. Endovascular coiling is a less invasive procedure than clipping. Doctor inserts a catheter (hollow tube) in an artery (most commonly in the groin area) and threads it to the aneurysm. Then a soft platinum wire is pushed with the help of a guided wire. This platinum wire gets coiled up inside the aneurysm sealing of its blood flow from the artery.
- Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm – it requires medications to control high blood pressure. Surgery is done to repair the aneurysm if need be.
- Abdominal Aneurysm – this one is also treated via medications to control blood pressure and surgery is done only if needed.
If a person is detected with Aneurysm, it requires close monitoring and regular follow ups to prevent the complications which may arise post the rupture. Surgical repair is done for aneurysms which are greater than 5 cm in size, during which the aneurysm is cut off from the artery and hole is sealed off via graft. Smaller than 5 cm aneurysm are left alone but the person is advised to stay under close supervision as ruptured aneurysm can be fatal.
Prevention is always better than cure so it’s necessary to decrease the chances of developing an aneurysm. Practice the below mentioned points :
- Eat a well balanced diet
- Quit smoking
- Practice meditation to help relieve stress
- Go for regular Exercise – walk, Jog, Run etc depending on your comfort and age
- Keep your blood pressure in check
An overall healthy body ensures less chances of developing a disease. If you are above 30 years of age, go for yearly medical checkups. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the key to stay fit and enjoy life!!