Can you guess what Lucille Ball, Conway Twitty, George C. Scott, and Albert Einstein all had in common?
Of course they were famous individuals whose names are still widely recognized around the world, however, they all died of the same disease. They all died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm.
At our Glendale office, Dr. Sammy A. Zakhary offers personalized Aortic Aneurysm treatment using the latest techniques. If you wish to learn more about the condition or if you are seeking care, give us a call at (623) 258-3255 today to reach our office.
What Are the Risk Factors for Aortic Aneurysm?
Many risk factors can increase your chances of developing an aortic aneurysm. Risk factors include being over the age of 65, tobacco use, which can weaken your aortic walls, and family history, which increases both the likelihood of developing an aortic aneurysm at a younger age and the odds of your aneurysm bursting.
People with certain health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or atherosclerosis—when a buildup of fat or another type of plaque in your arteries causes them to harden—are at an increased risk for aortic aneurysm.
Certain related health conditions, such as Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or simply having another aneurysm can increase your risk of developing an aortic aneurysm.
What Are the Types of Aortic Aneurysms?
Aortic aneurysms are separated into two different categories: thoracic and abdominal.
Thoracic aortic aneurysms occur in the chest and are known to affect both men and women equally and become more common as you get older. They occur when blood pushes against a weakened area in the walls of the major blood vessel that pumps blood to your heart (the aorta), causing a balloon-like bulge (an aneurysm).
Abdominal aortic aneurysms, also known as triple As, are the most common type of aneurysm. AAAs occur when part of your lower aorta becomes enlarged, typically somewhere in your abdomen. Because the aorta is the largest blood vessel in your body, any type of aortic aneurysm has the potential to burst and cause life-threatening bleeding.
What Are the Symptoms of Aortic Aneurysm?
Symptoms of thoracic aortic aneurysms are characterized by shortness of breath, trouble coughing, breathing or swallowing, and sharp pain in your jaw, neck, chest, or the upper part of your back.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are more difficult to diagnose because they often do not present with symptoms. However, any kind of throbbing or deep pain in your back, side, buttocks, groin, or legs could indicate a potential abdominal aortic aneurysm.
If your aortic aneurysm hasn't caused any symptoms, you may only begin to feel them if the aneurysm ruptures. Symptoms of rupture include difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, racing pulse, and intense, sudden pain either in your upper back moving downward (thoracic) or in your abdomen and lower back (abdominal).
How Are Aortic Aneurysms Discovered?
Many aneurysms are found during physical exams performed for another reason or as part of a routine series of medical tests, such as chest x-rays and ultrasounds of the heart or abdomen.
Once an aortic aneurysm is suspected, it can be confirmed with certain types of imaging.
Thoracic aortic aneurysms can be confirmed with an echocardiogram, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An abdominal aortic aneurysm is most commonly diagnosed with an abdominal ultrasound but can also be detected by an abdominal CT scan or an abdominal MRI.
Because aortic aneurysms can be difficult to diagnose, preventative screenings are sometimes recommended for those over age 65 with a history of smoking or a family history of aortic aneurysms or aneurysm-related disorders.
Is Surgical Repair Always Needed for an Aortic Aneurysm?
Treatment for aortic aneurysms depends on the size and the patient’s symptomatology. When triples As are found on imaging but are not causing any issues, Dr. Zakhary may take a watch-and-wait approach. If the aortic aneurysm is too large or if it is causing symptoms, surgical intervention may be warranted.
How Can I Prevent an Aortic Aneurysm?
Treatment for aortic aneurysms depends on the size and the patient’s symptomatology. When aortic aneurysms are found on imaging but are not causing any issues, Dr. Zakhary may take a watch-and-wait approach. If the aortic aneurysm is too large or if it is causing symptoms, surgical intervention may be warranted.
Certain risk factors for developing an aortic aneurysm, such as genetics and gender, cannot be controlled. However, there are lifestyle modifications you can do to reduce your overall risk. Hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and smoking put you at greater risk of developing an aortic aneurysm. You can minimize your overall risk by:
- Eating a healthy diet: Diets high in saturated and trans fat increase your risk of developing hypercholesterolemia. Overly processed foods can also increase your risk as well.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise keeps your weight in check and can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Lower stress levels: Ongoing stress causes inflammation throughout your body, which may increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, and aortic aneurysms. Meditation, journaling, and even psychotherapy can help reduce stress levels.
How Are Aortic Aneurysms Repaired?
If surgical repair is indicated, Dr. Zakhary will discuss the different surgical techniques he can use to repair the aortic aneurysm. In most cases, surgical repair will follow a specific set of steps:
- Clamping of the aortic aneurysm.
- Graft insertion.
- Closure of the incision with the application of a sterile dressing.
What Are the Risks and Complications of Aneurysm Surgery?
Aortic aneurysm repair can be a life-saving surgery, however, it is not without risk. The risks and possible complications of aortic aneurysm repair include:
- Blood clots.
- Heart attack and stroke.
- Respiratory distress.
- Kidney failure.
- Spinal cord injury.
- Graft infection.
- Systemic infections.
Aortic Aneurysm Treatment with Dr. Zakhary
Dr. Zakhary has vast experience in treating aortic aneurysm disease. He is board certified in vascular surgery and general surgery. He has completed 7 years of formal surgical training, including a Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Fellowship at Baylor University. He serves as an adjunct professor at Midwestern University.
During his training at Baylor he was involved in the care of patients and research of abdominal aortic aneurysm and has one of the largest series in the country related to Abdominal Aortic Surgery performed without General Anesthesia.
"The place I used to go to for my vein issues is no longer there. I did a lot of research on who to consult moving forward, and I can say, Dr. Zakhary stood out with the positive comments. The Doc and the team have been fantastic. Doc is very thorough when talking to him about what’s going on and what’s to come. His entire staff has been the best. Very detail-oriented in how they communicate with their patients. Absolutely recommend them if you are in need."
Call Dr. Zakhary for Aortic Aneurysm Treatment in Glendale!
To learn more about Aortic Aneurysm treatment, or to determine if you are a candidate for the procedure, book a personalized appointment with accomplished Glendale doctor Sammy A. Zakhary, MD, PC today! Call (623) 258-3255 or fill out the Appointment Request Form below. Our practice looks forward to serving you!