You’ve been diagnosed with an enlarged aorta: Now what?

enlarged aorta blog

If you’ve been diagnosed with an enlarged aorta, you likely have many questions about your condition: How big is too big? When should I be worried? What does “watchful waiting” mean? Are there any early warning signs before it bursts?

Most of the answers to these questions depend on a variety of factors, including your age and body size, medical history and the position and size of your aorta, among others.

University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center patient Bob Stephens found he had all of these questions and more when diagnosed with a total of five aortic enlargements.

“It’s awfully scary, but you don’t have a choice,” Bob says. “When I was first told about my condition, it worried me, but I knew the U-M team of doctors was watching me closely, especially my abdominal aortic aneurysm, which was large.” Bob admits that “watchful waiting” can be stressful, but “I knew I had the right people taking care of me.” Continue reading

Do you know your risk for an aortic aneurysm?

There are often no symptoms associated with an aortic aneurysm, so it's important to know your health history

Abdominal aortic aneurysmAn aortic aneurysm generally doesn’t cause symptoms until a patient has a significant problem. Most aortic aneurysms are detected by chance — for example, through an imaging test that was ordered to rule out other health concerns.

This is why it’s so important to know your health history. Does someone in your family have an aneurysm? Has a family member died from an aneurysm or experienced a catastrophic event due to an aneurysm? If so, these are indications that you and members of your family should be tested. The key is to know your risk(s) for an aortic aneurysm to reduce your chances of stroke or sudden death. Continue reading

Top 5 Takeaways on Diseases of the Aorta and Veins

Dr. Dawn Coleman shares information from Mini Med School presentation

mini_med_school_cardiovascular_graphic diseases blogLeading U-M Frankel CVC researchers and physicians are advancing knowledge, finding new treatments and applying new technologies. Each week one of them shared his or her expertise in a six-week Mini Med School community education program focused on cardiovascular topics.

Here are the Top 5 Takeaways from Dr. Dawn Coleman’s Mini Med School presentation on Diseases of the Aorta and Veins:

1. Surgery for AAA is a solid option

Open surgical repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) remains a durable option for patients; endovascular measures with stent graft technology continue to evolve, offering expanded indications for use with complex anatomy and a lower risk of early death and major complication. Continue reading

Screenings key to diagnosing abdominal aortic aneurysms

Vascular nursing week is June 9-15

Red water balloon

Screening is important in diagnosing an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a bulge or ballooning in the body’s main artery.

If a family member has been diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, the chances of other family members having an aortic aneurysm are significant. Screening is important for these family members, especially after the age of 50.

An aortic aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning (enlargement) in part of the aorta, the body’s main artery. This bulge in the abdomen is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or AAA (“triple A”). (View an illustration of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.)

In general, aortic aneurysms occur more frequently in men and people over age 60. “We have found that people with high blood pressure and those who smoke may have a faster growth of the aneurysm,” says Becky Bertha´, RN and Clinical Care Coordinator at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. “About 6 percent of women will develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and the condition often ruptures at a smaller size in females.” (Listen to a podcast about abdominal aortic aneurysm ruptures in women with U-M Frankel Cardiovascular vascular surgeon Katherine Gallagher.)

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