aortic aneurysms are usually asymptomatic. Sometimes a doctor may find them during exams, ultrasonography, or x-ray done for other reasons. Affected people often experience pain in the abdomen, chest, or back. The pain may be constant or may come and go. If an aneurysm ruptures, a patient may feel sharp or sudden pain due to internal bleeding. It often leads to death within minutes to hours.
An aortic aneurysm can also lead to other problems. Blood flow often slows in the bulging section of an aortic aneurysm, causing clots to form. If a blood clot breaks off, it may block aorta blood flow to other organs. At times, aortic aneurysm might cause pressure or local compression to adjacent organs.
As aortic aneurysms are usually asymptomatic; a doctor may find them during annual physical examinations or screening tests. The American Association of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2005) recommends an ultrasound screening in the high-risk group mentioned below
- Ages 65 to 75 and has a history of smoking (*U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2005)
- At least 60 years old and have a first-degree relative (for example, father or brother) who has had an aneurysm (**ACC/AHA)
For proper diagnosis, experts recommend computed tomography (CT) screening test for people who have a first-degree relative with a history of thoracic aortic aneurysm. The 256-slice CT scan is quick and efficient as it can be done in as quickly as five seconds and is able to produce more precise imaging while reducing the amount of radiation used.
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