It’s important that you undergo regular aneurysm screening if you are at risk. An aneurysm is a ballooning in the walls of one of your arteries, the large blood vessels that carry oxygen-filled blood to other parts of your body from your heart. When that bulge grows large enough, it can burst, causing dangerous levels of bleeding internally or even death.
The majority of aneurysms develop in the aorta, which is the main blood vessel that carries blood through your chest and to your abdomen. These are called abdominal or thoracic aortic aneurysms. The ballooning also can occur in the arteries in the brain or heart. If you have a brain aneurysm that bursts, it usually causes a stroke. An aneurysm in another part of your body is called a peripheral aneurysm.
Because of the dangerous consequences of aneurysms and the lack of apparent symptoms when you have one, it’s important that you undergo regular aneurysm screening if you are at risk. The screening for an aneurysm is non-invasive, painless and risk-free. And it can save your life if a bulge is detected early.
Easy Aneurysm Screening Procedure
Doctors rely primarily on a common ultrasound test to check for abdominal aneurysms. While lying on a table, a warm gel is applied to your belly. The technician runs a wand with a transducer on the end over your body. That produces an immediate image on a nearby screen and your doctor can determine whether you have aneurysm right then and there.
If the test is inconclusive, you may undergo X-ray exams that also are non-invasive and painless. A computerized tomography, or CT scan, can clearly show the shape and size of a bulge in your artery. A magnetic resonance imaging test, or MRI, can help determine the size and location of the aneurysm. If it’s suspected you may have a brain aneurysm, your doctor may first use a CT scan or MRI to look for the abnormality.
Too Close to Call
A ruptured brain aneurysm often is revealed following a sudden, severe headache. The condition calls for emergency treatment, so call 911 if you suspect the condition, particularly if anyone in your family has suffered a similar aneurysm burst.
A brain aneurysm that hasn’t burst can cause extreme pain behind one eye or vision loss. It can also cause one side of your face to be paralyzed. If you have a brain aneurysm, your doctor will locate it, but avoid contacting if it hasn’t yet burst. New treatments are being introduced that may be able to prevent further damage.
Weigh the Risks
Abdominal aneurysms are much more common and aneurysm screening is highly recommended if you are in a high-risk category. The U.S. Preventive Services advises that you receive regular aneurysm screening for an abdominal aneurysm if you are male between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever smoked cigarettes. It’s recommended that you get a one-time ultrasound aneurysm screening. Men over the age of 60 with a family history of abdominal aneurysms also are encouraged to undergo a one-time screening. For the little inconvenience it may cause you, the benefits are astronomical.
If, during a routine exam, your doctor uncovers a small lump in your belly region, he may send you for a aneurysm screening to rule out an aneurysm. The goal of early detection is to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.
If an abdominal aneurysm bursts, you’ll require emergency surgery to repair the break in your aorta. According to the National Institutes of Health, only about one in five people survive a burst abdominal aneurysm.
However, if the aneurysm screening detects an aneurysm early, you’ll rarely need surgery and the prognosis is excellent if you have surgery before it ruptures. Early intervention that reveals an aneurysm often gives you time to take precautions before you experience a rupture. Lifestyle changes you can make to avoid rupturing it include:
- Avoiding heavy lifting
- Following a regular exercise routine recommended by your doctor
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control
Once an aneurysm is detected through aneurysm screening, continue with regular screening tests about every six months to monitor the progression or reduction of the ballooning. You can schedule an aneurysm screening ultrasound with NYC Cardiology. Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates.
Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Cardiologist NYC, Midtown)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 686-0066