This heart condition can develop without warning

This heart condition can develop without warning

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States – that is why knowing your risk factors and getting regular heart scans is so important. Screenings can catch heart conditions that may not show any symptoms until it is too late. One of those conditions is an aortic aneurysm.

What is an aortic aneurysm?

An aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the aorta, which is the largest artery in your body. They will often develop with no warning signs and, if left undetected, can stretch the aortic wall too far and cause it to burst or tear. This can lead to internal bleeding, stroke and possibly death.

“Once an aortic aneurysm becomes an emergency like a dissection or rupture, then the risk of dying from that is much higher than if you operate on it electively,” says Dr. Eric Weiss, a cardiothoracic surgeon who leads an aortic surveillance program at Aurora Health Care.

While conditions such as an aortic aneurysm are rare, Dr. Weiss says they can show up in any age group, at any time.

What is a surveillance clinic?  

The purpose of an aortic surveillance clinic is to closely monitor patients before or after surgery. The clinic schedules regular appointments for follow-up testing to be done, reviewed and compared to prior results. If testing reveals a problem, you will be brought to the clinic to have a discussion with a surgeon and have additional workup done.

Aortic aneurysm symptoms

Since aortic aneurysms develop slowly over time, there may not always be symptoms. However, there are warning signs that one has developed, allowing you to intervene early. Some symptoms include:

  • Sharp, sudden pain in your back, chest, jaw or neck
  • Coughing or hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or feeling faint
  • Sudden, severe chest pain
  • Loss of consciousness or shock

Want to learn more about your risk for heart disease? Take a free online quiz to learn more. 

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  1. I would like the names of tests for your heart.

  2. I have been having lot of chest pain. Using Nitro for it.
    Drs say my heart is fine. I have had a stress test, echo,X-ray, CT scan. I have a recent stent placement.

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Sophie Darting

Sophie Darting is a marketing specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care.