Anywhere Aneurysms

Aneurysms | Cardiologist, Midtown NYCAn aneurysm refers to a ballooning or bulging within the walls of a blood vessel. The aorta is the most common place where aneurysms occur. According to the leading cardiovascular doctors at Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 10,000 deaths in 2014 were caused by a ruptured aortic aneurysm. And about two-thirds of those deaths were males.

Aneurysms can occur at a number of different places along the giant blood vessel:

  • Thoracic aortic aneurysms appear in the chest area. These become more common with age and occur equally in men and women. People with Marfan syndrome, high blood pressure, certain infections and inflammatory disorders are more at risk for developing a thoracic aortic aneurysms. Seek attention from a cardiac doctor or cardiologist immediately if you have symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysms, which closely mimics signs of a heart attack. Symptoms can include:
    • Shortness of breath
    • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
    • Sudden, tearing chest pain or hard back pain
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs in the areas below your chest. These are more common in Caucasian men over the age of 65. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are typically caused by atherosclerosis — or hardening of the arteries. Injury or infection also can lead to an abdominal aortic aneurysm. These usually don’t have severe symptoms, so if you are at risk, you should monitor your aortic health. Cardiovascular doctors can evaluate your risk. If you had any symptoms, they might include:
    • Pain in your legs, groin or buttocks
    • Strong pain or deep throbbing in your abdomen, rear end, and lower back

Aortic Aneurysm Symptoms

The signs of an aortic aneurysm vary depending on its location and type. The severity of the symptoms depends on whether the aortic aneurysm has ruptured or not. Most abdominal aorta aneurysms take years to fully develop, with no signals at all, until they rupture. Early signs could include:

  • Strong pain in your side or back
  • Growing pain that radiates around your abdomen
  • Throbbing abdominal pain

If it ruptures, you may undergo:

  • A severe, sudden stabbing abdominal pain
  • Difficulty urinating and constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Sweaty, clammy skin

Thoracic Aneurysm Symptoms

Thoracic aortic aneurysms, on the other hand, won’t give you any trouble until they grow. Some early warning symptoms you may suffer from can include:

  • Hoarseness and coughing
  • Pain in your chest, neck or jaw
  • Trouble breathing and swallowing

If it dissects or ruptures, a thoracic aneurysm can cause:

  • Chest pain
  • Shock
  • Severe pain in your upper back that radiates downward

Any symptoms of an aortic aneurysm should be taken seriously. Call 911 or your cardiovascular doctor because organ damage or death can occur very quickly once internal bleeding begins.

Marfan Syndrome

Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that’s present at birth. The effects of the Marfan Syndrome condition, however, usually don’t show up until adolescence when children begin to grow. The hallmarks of the disorder are recognized primarily by:

  • Out-of-proportion physical appearance
  • Bone and dental deformities
  • Difficulty with vision
  • Weakening of the blood vessel walls

Marfan Syndrome is the defect in the blood vessels that leaves the Marfan sufferer at risk for developing dangerous aortic aneurysms, particularly in the aorta. The aorta is a major artery, responsible for carrying blood from the heart throughout the entire body. When the aorta is stretched or weakened, the risk of developing aortic aneurysms increases exponentially. If a rupture occurs, it could be life-threatening.

Risk Factors Vary

In addition to Marfan syndrome, another genetic disorder that could put you at risk for an aortic aneurysm is called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which also weakens blood vessel walls and leads to ruptures. Many other diseases that affect your heart also put you at risk for an aortic aneurysm, including:

  • Atherosclerosis, most commonly referred to as hardened arteries
  • Smoking, which puts you three to five times more at risk than non-smokers
  • Obesity, which stresses your entire system
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Family history of aortic aneurysms

You may have an aortic aneurysm for years and not know it if you haven’t been tested by your heart doctor or cardiologist.  Preventive measures, such as medications and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for developing aortic disease. All the common-sense healthy habits that work to keep your heart healthy also contribute to aortic aneurysm prevention, such as:

  • No smoking
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding stress

Test First

Ideally, when you visit a heart doctor at Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates for a checkup, you should make a point to inform your doctor of any family history of aortic aneurysms so that you can be monitored on a regular basis. If you have any of the heart-related risk factors, regular monitoring is a must as well.

In addition, an abdominal aortic screening is important for you to get if you are a Caucasian male between the ages of 65 and 75 who has smoked at any time during your life. Some of the tests your doctor may use to check for aneurysms include:

  • Echocardiogram, a painless, non-invasive ultrasound test that allows your doctor to get a visual display of your heart and surrounding blood vessels in real time.
  • Abdominal aortic ultrasound, an ultrasound test that measures the sound waves along your entire aorta. (Ultrasounds are performed in the doctor’s office with a wand that’s passed over your skin after a thin layer of gel has been applied.)

Aortic Aneurysm Treatments

Treatment for aortic aneurysms is guided by the size of the bulge. Treatment with medications and routine tests are usually recommended when the area remains under five centimeters (almost two inches) in diameter. If it appears to be growing or reaches a certain size your cardiac doctor may recommend more aggressive aneurysm treatment in a form of a surgery to remove or repair the aneurysm

With early cardiovascular doctor evaluation and detection, aneurysm treatment, and consistent screening, you and your cardiac doctor will likely be able to prevent an aneurym from rupturing and causing any problems.  If you’ve had no symptoms at all, it’s still recommended that you see a doctor, get screened for an aneurysm if:

  • You are between 65 and 75 and you have a family history of the condition
  • You are a man between 65 and 75 who has ever smoked


Make an appointment with NYC cardiologist today. The doctors and specialists at Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates are experts is diagnosing and treating aortic disease, Marfan syndrome and aneurysms.

Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Cardiologist NYC, Midtown)

51 East 25th Street, Ste 400
New York, NY10010

(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
(212) 686-0066