Albert Einstein, the brilliant physicist, who developed the theory of relativity and who was considered one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, was “outsmarted” by a silent killer.
Einstein died of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, the same condition that caused the death of actor George C. Scott, famous for his portrayal of General George Patton in the 1970 movie, “Patton.”
Although major advances have been made in early detection and treatment since then, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) continues to be the third leading cause of death in men over age 60.
Few Symptoms for AAA
Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of AAA can be quite subtle, often just a pulsing sensation in the navel area of the body. As a result, many people are completely unaware there is a problem until the aneurysm is severe enough to cause pain or there is a rupture.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men age 65 and over who have smoked undergo screening using abdominal ultrasound. This painless, noninvasive test uses sound waves to create internal images of the tissues, organs and blood vessels in the abdominal area. Men with a strong family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm may also want to consider screening. Early detection can save lives.
What exactly is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
AAA is a weakening of the blood vessel wall in the major artery that runs through the abdominal area. Over time, the section of the artery that is damaged can bulge or balloon in shape. If the bulge continues to expand, the artery can rupture, which can be fatal without immediate emergency treatment.
Fortunately, there are several options for safe and effective treatment. If tests show that the aneurysm is still small, most physicians recommend taking a “watchful waiting” approach with frequent monitoring. If the aneurysm is large and there is concern about possible rupture, however, surgery is recommended.
During Einstein’s era, surgical intervention for AAA was limited to reinforcing the blood vessel wall. If the aneurysm grew large enough, rupture was inevitable. Today, it’s possible to safely and effectively repair the blood vessel wall with a minimally invasive endovascular aortic aneurysm procedure.
Unlike traditional open surgery, which requires a lengthy hospital stay and recovery, endovascular aortic aneurysm repair allows patients to return to their normal routines with little downtime. A metal or plastic mesh tube called a stent or graft is permanently placed inside the blood vessel where it replaces the damaged section of artery and restores proper circulation.
Are You At Risk?
Below are the major factors for AAA:
- Age 60+
- Gender (men are more likely to develop AAA than women)
- Family history
- Atherosclerosis (hardening or narrowing of the arteries)
- Heart or peripheral artery disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
If you are concerned that you may be at risk for AAA, call Lam Vascular at 214-345-4160 or contact us here. Dr. Lam is Board Certified in vascular and endovascular surgery. He specializes in minimally-invasive therapy for peripheral arterial disease, aortic aneurysm, carotid artery stenosis, limb salvage, stroke prevention and varicose veins.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.