What Is an Aortic Aneurysm?
An aortic aneurysm is a swelling of the aorta. This bulging can weaken the wall of the blood vessel. The risk of this occurring is that it may rupture unexpectedly, leading to often fatal internal bleeding. The weakening may also lead to a dissection of the aorta which can also be life-threatening. The ascending aorta is located at the base of the left ventricle, one of four chambers within the heart.
Diagnosis of an Aortic Aneurysm
Aortic aneurysm symptoms are often unnoticeable. When it is detected, surgery for decreasing size of ascending aortic aneurysm if this part of the blood vessel is involved is recommended. Normal size for the aorta should be no more than 3.5 cm, explains Dr. Lars Svensson of the Cleveland Clinic Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.
If the ascending aorta is impacted, an aortic stent is not an appropriate option. Aortic aneurysm surgery is the best plan of action for controlling the size of the aneurysm. While open chest surgery sounds frightening, the risk of death is only 1 percent in healthy individuals.
Aortic Aneurysm Surgery
Intervention is necessary if the aorta is over 5.5 cm. Earlier treatment may be necessary if there is an accompanying valve issue which is the case in about one-third of patients. Surgery may involve a repair of the aneurysm with a graft made out of Dacron. It is chemically related to polyester. This manmade material is easily tolerated by the human body and mimics the function of normal-functioning blood vessels. It is also durable and able to handle the rigors of its role in the human body.
Left untreated, there is a 1 to 3 percent risk of dissection or rupture of the blood vessel per year. Because the aorta plays such a vital role, the procedure for decreasing size of the ascending aortic aneurysm is essential. The risk increases if the aortic aneurysm is fast growing. Most however, form slowly over the course of one’s lifetime.
Prognosis after Ascending Aortic Aneurysm Repair
The prognosis after aortic aneurysm surgery is good. With the graft in place, there is added insurance that the aorta will function properly. You can expect to lead an active life after you have recovered from the procedure. Blood pressure control will be part of your ongoing health maintenance.
Your doctor may prescribe beta blockers. These drugs, as the name implies, block the body’s response to adrenaline. You may also have to take aspirin. Aspirin helps your blood flow more smoothly, an added precaution with the graft in your aorta.
Surgery for ascending aortic aneurysm repair illustrates the great strides that medicine has made to improve the quality of life for those with this common heart condition. The procedures promises the hope of a normal life.
Photo by Walter Groesel, stock.xchng
Cleveland Clinic: Aorta Surgery - Dr. Svensson my.clevelandclinic.org