What Is An Aneurysm?

What is an aneurysm? Who gets them? Where can they occur? Read further to find out more about aneurysms.

The very mention of the word aneurysm makes most of us cringe because we associate this word with sudden death. What exactly is an aneurysm? Who gets them? Where in the body can they occur?

First of all, lets define aneurysm. An aneurysm is a weakened area of a wall of a blood vessel. The weakened area sort of "balloons out", causing an aneurysm. Think, if you will, of a tire with bubble or weakened area on it, sort of bulging out. This is basically the same concept. An aneurysm can occur with age or it can be congenital (present from birth). Increased pressure in an artery with an aneurysm can have serious results, including bleeding, pain and even death.

One of the most common and dangerous types of aneurysms is the aortic aneurysm. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, running down the center of the body, down the chest and abdomen. It can occur from atherosclerosis or syphilis, or just aging. It is attached directly to the heart.

A berry aneurysm is in the brain. These types of aneurysms are congenital, you are born with them. Most of the time these leak causing headaches, then they rupture and cause death.

An aneurysm is dangerous because is can rupture when pressure from blood pulsating within the artery is so great that the wall gives way.

Symptoms include:

none, unless it bursts

sometimes pain before it ruptures

Persistant or increasing pain in the chest or abdomen should be checked immediately, especially in people over 50.

Testing and treatment include:

An arteriogram which checks for aneurysms, as well as x-rays. A CT scan can detect a brain aneurysm. Sometimes if it is caught in time, surgery can be done to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.

You cannot prevent congenital aneurysms. But smoking and high cholesterol levels contribute to atherosclerosis which damages artery walls and helps to cause an aneurysm. Also, diabetes and high blood pressure cause artery damage. Stop smoking, lower blood pressure, stress and cholesterol levels, with diet and with your doctor's help.

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