Aortic Aneurysm

Any disease of the aorta is very serious, but with appropriate lifestyle modifications and the expert care you’ll get from INTEGRIS Health, chances are you’ll be able to live a healthy, active life.

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The Basics

An aneurysm is a bulging, weak area in the wall of a blood vessel that can occur in many areas of the body. Aortic aneurysms are the most common, occurring in the aorta which carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of your body. The exact cause of these aneurysms isn't fully known, but smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity increase your risk; as does being an older male or having a family history of the disease.

Changing for the Better

Although any disease of the aorta is very serious, with appropriate lifestyle modifications and the expert care you'll get from INTEGRIS Health, chances are you'll be able to live a healthy, active life. We'll work with you to make difficult changes for the better, while keeping a close eye on the aneurysm to prevent rupture.

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Understanding Aortic Aneurysm

Aneurysms may have no symptoms. If symptoms are present, they depend on the location of the aneurysm in the body. Pain is the most common symptom regardless of the aneurysm location.

At INTEGRIS we use the most advanced imaging methods and diagnostic tools to determine the cause, severity and prognosis of your heart condition. Some of these diagnostic tests may include:

  • Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) scan: This imaging test uses X-rays and computer technology to make horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of your body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI uses large magnets, radio frequency energy, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures in your body.
  • Echocardiogram (Echo): This procedure evaluates the structure and function of your heart by using sound waves recorded on an electronic sensor that makes a moving picture of the heart and heart valves.
  • Arteriogram (Angiogram): This X-ray image of your blood vessels evaluates various conditions such as aneurysm, stenosis (narrowing of the blood vessel), or blockages. A dye (contrast) will be injected through a thin flexible tube placed in an artery. This dye will make the blood vessels visible on the X-ray.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues and organs. An ultrasound is used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels.

Our multidisciplinary team will collaborate closely to develop an optimal, personalized treatment plan for you. Aneurysms are repaired once they reach a certain size to prevent rupture of the blood vessel. Treatment also includes controlling risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and smoking cessation, which may require changes in lifestyle and medicine. Treatment options for an aortic aneurysm may include:

  • Medicine: Medicine can help control factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • Medical monitoring: Your doctor may recommend this initial procedure if an aneurysm is slow-growing and small. Frequent doctor appointments include imaging tests, like echocardiograms, to check the size of the aneurysm.
  • Managing risk factors: Smoking cessation, controlling blood sugar if you have diabetes, losing weight if overweight and controlling dietary fat intake may help to control the progression of the aneurysm.
  • Surgical repair: Aneurysm surgical repair can be done with large incisions and grafts or with smaller incisions, X-ray images and a stent-graft combination. Surgical repair may include:
    • Abdominal aortic aneurysm open surgery
    • Endovascular aneurysm repair surgery
    • Thoracic aortic aneurysm open chest surgery
    • Thoracic endovascular aneurysm repair surgery

Part of heart and vascular care includes managing heart disease and preventing further deterioration to help you live the fullest life possible. To accomplish that, we’ll provide you with education, continued care options and programs even after you are discharged including:

  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Heart education
  • Anticoagulation Management Clinic
  • Heart Care Program
  • Integrative medicine
  • Palliative care

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