Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm - A 15 Minute Test Can Save Your Life
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are the 4th biggest causes of death in men aged 65 and over, after cancer, heart attacks and strokes.
Yet it is a silent killer.
There are no symptoms, no warnings.
Aneurysms can occur in any artery in the body, but most commonly occur in the aorta which is the major blood vessel in the body, carrying oxygenated blood away from the heart.
The wall of the artery can become stretched with age, and lose elasticity.
When this happens, the wall bulges and thins.
The speed of the blood flow through arteries is tremendous, and is faster again in the aorta, adding stress to aged artery walls.
If it bursts, you bleed to death in about 3 minutes.
Now, many Health Boards are offering a simple ultrasound scan to people aged over 65, to detect the presence of abdominal aortic aneurysms.
Detection of Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
If you fall under this age bracket, please go along to your doctor or clinic and make an appointment.
The test is painless and only takes about 15 minutes, but it could save your life.
If an abdominal aortic aneurysm is detected, it will be measured, noted, and checked up on if it is under a certain size.
The danger size is 5.5cm, so if the aneurysm is smaller, expect it to be observed at intervals for signs of it enlarging, but usually doctors do not carry out any procedure at this point.
50% of people with a small aneurysm will find that their aneurysm never enlarges and no operation will be needed.
5.5cm and above, and you are at risk of dropping down dead.
Doctors will operate and remove that section of your artery and replace it with a synthetic material to hold it all in place.
This is a major operation.
I have personally watched surgeons carrying out an aortic bifurcation graft. This was over 30 years ago, so with modern day techniques you can be sure the operation is well-practised and safe.
Afterwards, you will need to take it easy for a while to allow the graft to heal, and then you will be well enough to continue with your life and normal activities, knowing your life is no longer in danger.
6 to 8 Time More Men Than Women Suffer Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
Women get abdominal aortic aneurysms too, and just like in men, there are no symptoms. Sometimes they are picked up on ultrasounds looking for other conditions.
If you are woman, and have a family history of aneurysms occurring anywhere in the body, it is certainly well worth checking out this new facility.
However, as men are statistically 6 to 8 times more likely to suffer one that you, the chances are you will not be offered a routine scan, but on enquiring will be given one anyway.
Sam Ellicott, in full health again
A True Story about How an Abdominal Ultrasound Scan Saved One Man's Life
73 year old Sam Ellicott was driving along the road one day, only half-listening to his car radio, when something he heard caught his attention.
The radio presenter had a studio guest (who was a specialist) talking about aneurysms, and he caught the words "silent killer" and "men over 65 at risk". At the end of the show, the presenter gave out the contact number for a local screening program.
Sam was stopped at traffic lights and the time, and, grabbing a pen off his dashboard, noted the number on the back of his hand.
Later that day, he phoned and made an appointment for the following week.
The procedure was simple. All he had to do was lay down on a trolley and lift his shirt to allow gel to be placed on his stomach for the scan, which as us ladies know, is painless.
The news was bad.
Sam Ellicott had a thumping great 6.5 cm abdominal aortic aneurysm, and he was scheduled for immediate surgery.
Afterwards, he made a full recovery.
Sam owes his life to that radio program, without which he would never have suspected or had any inkling his life was in such danger.
Perhaps someone reading this hub will feel the same one day.
Get checked out. Look for a screening program near you. Don't die of ignorance.