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If you experience chest pain or a strong pulse sensation in your chest, consult your WellStar physician. However, you should go immediately to the emergency room if the pain is severe or if there is a pulsating bulge in your abdomen.
Aortic Anuerysm Statistic
About 15,000 deaths each year are attributed to aortic aneurysms, placing the condition among the 15 leading causes of death in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics*
*Source: National Center for Health Statistics

Aortic Aneurysm Treatment

Treatment for an aortic aneurysm depends on your health, the severity of the symptoms, the size and location of the aneurysm and whether it continues to grow. If it is a small aneurysm, your WellStar physician might suggest a monitoring period to see if it gets any larger, or treatment with high blood pressure medication, such as beta blockers. Such medication helps lower blood pressure and, thus, decreases stress on the aortic wall. In addition to regular monitoring, your doctor may suggest improving your health, diet and lifestyle.

If the aneurysm is large or fast growing, you would need surgery to fix it.

In every case, your WellStar physician will help you weigh the benefits of each treatment approach and make an experienced recommendation for the best outcome. You can feel confident your decision will be based on both your input and the expertise and recommendations of your experienced physician.

Taking Care of Aortic Aneurysms

Abdominal aortic aneurysms are unlikely to rupture if they develop slowly, are less than two inches in diameter and cause no symptoms. Close monitoring might be the proper treatment with a scanning strategy of every six to 12 months. If your WellStar physician determines that surgery is the necessary route, there are two main options, which your vascular surgeon will discuss with you:

  • Open surgery had been the long accepted procedure in treating an abdominal aortic aneurysm. In this procedure, a long incision is made in the abdomen. The blood flow in the aorta is stopped temporarily with the aid of an outside pump, which circulates blood throughout the body to keep other vital organs and tissues perfused properly. The damaged section of the aorta is removed and replaced by an artificial graft, which is sewn in by permanent suture material.
  • Endovascular surgery has become a more common treatment to repair an aneurysm without major surgery. In this less invasive treatment, a synthetic stent-graft is attached to the end of a thin tube (catheter) that is inserted into the bloodstream through the groin or leg and then threaded to the location of the aneurysm. Once in place, the graft is expanded. The stent reinforces the weakened section of the aorta, taking pressure off of the aneurysm.

Both procedures have proven to be successful, but both have their downsides. The open surgery, because of its complexity and the size of the incision, poses risks to the heart, brain, lungs and kidneys and comes with a considerable recovery time. Endovascular surgery often has fewer complications, but because of the relative newness of the procedure, the long-term outcomes may not yet be quite as well known.

Taking Care of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms

Because of their proximity to the heart, thoracic aortic aneurysms have a greater potential for harm to the heart or other organs than abdominal aortic aneurysms. Although stenting of these aneurysms is possible, surgical repair most often requires a full cardiopulmonary bypass by a WellStar vascular or cardiothoracic surgeon.