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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death. Most aneurysms occur in the aorta, the main artery that that carries blood runs from the heart to the rest of the body. There are two types of aneurysm, those which run through your chest (thoracic aneurysm) and those which run through the abdomen (abdominal aneurysm).

Symptoms

Aneurysms can develop and become large before causing any symptoms. They can show up for the first time with the rupturing of the wall of the aorta, with serious repercussions in blood pressure, the blood flow to vital tissues and can be life-threatening. When symptoms occur, they are usually in the form of abdominal pain (nausea, unspecified pain, loss of appetite, etc.) or pain in the lumbar area.

Prevention

Since aneurysms can develop and enlarge before causing any symptoms, it is important to look for them (generally by using ultrasound tests) and especially in persons with greater risk (male smokers between the ages of 65-75). Frequently if the aneurysms are found and treated early, they can be stopped from enlarging and bursting.

The best form of aortic aneurysm prevention is to treat the risk factors. Those principally at risk of aortic aneurysms are males and the elderly, but regarding modifiable factors that we can control, three are especially highlighted:

  • Smoking risks (quit smoking)
  • Prevent and treat arterial hypertension (high blood pressure numbers)
  • Prevent and treat arteriosclerosis (high cholesterol numbers)

Gene or region studied

  • 9p21.3
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