What are early signs and symptoms of an aneurysm?
Aneurysm in the stomach is also known as Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA). An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a medical condition of the dilated abdominal aorta (main big artery in the abdomen) more than 50% of its original normal diameter. Aneurysm in your stomach is a very serious condition. The death rate due to the abdominal aortic aneurysm as high as it is a silent disease and a silent killer. Death occurs due to the rupture of the abdominal aorta. The main preventive measure is the repair of the abdominal aorta. The entire full-thickness of the abdominal aorta wall is dilated in the case of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Due to this fact, an abdominal aortic aneurysm is known as a true arterial aneurysm in the stomach.
Patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms can be symptomatic or asymptomatic. The typical early signs and symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm are:
- Abdominal pain and tenderness
- Flank pain
- Back pain
- Fever or pyrexia
- Features of shock (if abdominal aorta rupture)
False aneurysms can also affect the abdominal aorta. However, it is not common. False aneurysm is mainly due to trauma (injury) or infections. Generally, an aortic diameter of more than 3cm is considered as an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The diameter of the abdominal aorta varies from one person to another depending on various factors. The factors are gender, age, and body build. On average, the diameter of the abdominal aorta is 2cm. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is classified according to the diameter. They are:
- Very large aneurysm (6 cm or more in diameter)
- Large aneurysm (more than 5 cm in diameter)
- Medium aneurysm (diameter of 4 to 5.5 cm)
- Small aneurysm (diameter less than 4 cm)
The number of annual new cases of abdominal aortic aneurysm is two to eight percent in developed countries. Men are commonly affected more than women. There are about 1 million abdominal aortic aneurysm patients in the United States of America. The risk for the development of abdominal aortic aneurysm increases with age for both genders. In 2010, it was reported that around 7000 patients died due to an abdominal aortic aneurysm in the United States of America. However, about 50% reduction in total death due to abdominal aortic aneurysm has been achieved since the 90s. The specific reasons for the reduction are still unknown. The reasons might be due to a decrease in smoking, awareness, and effective screening programs.
The risk factors for an abdominal aortic aneurysm are:
- Old age
- Cigarette smoking
- Caucasians race
- Family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm
- Other large artery aneurysms
Low risk for abdominal aortic aneurysms are:
- Diabetic patients
Imaging studies are needed to establish the diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurysm. Abdominal ultrasound, computed tomography (CT scan), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) help detect any dilatation of the abdominal aorta. Surgical repair is the definitive treatment for both ruptured and unruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. Medical therapies can be given for cases of the unruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm which are on watchful waiting. However, no other medical therapies are effective other than smoking cessation. In patients with are under watchful waiting, cycling, walking, and other aerobic exercises may reduce the risk of rupture. However, physical activities like weight lifting must be avoided.