Your aorta is a long vessel that transports blood from your heart to the rest of your body. It travels from your chest to your abdomen and branches off from there. If your aorta becomes weakened by disease, injury, or infection, it can develop an aneurism or balloon-like bulge. If the aneurysm bursts, it bleeds out quickly and becomes a life-threatening emergency.
Our extensive team of expert surgeons at Rockland Thoracic & Vascular Associates can help you prevent this tragedy by monitoring your vascular health and performing a minimally invasive procedure that protects your arteries, as well treating them if you have a rupture.
Signs you might have an aortic aneurysm
The challenge is that aortic aneurysms tend to be asymptomatic, and you may not even know you have one. About 15 million Americans are affected by them every year.
An aneurysm can occur anywhere along the length of your aortic artery (in the chest area, it’s called a thoracic aneurysm; in the lower region, it’s called an abdominal aneurysm), and they may develop slowly without any warning signs.
Only as an aneurysm grows will you begin to develop symptoms, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in your back
- Coughing and a hoarse voice
- Chest pain or tenderness
It’s easy to overlook these nonspecific symptoms, so you should make an appointment to see us right away if you experience them and you fall into one of the high-risk categories for aneurysms, including:
- You’re older than 65
- You have a family history of aneurysms
- You’re a smoker
- You have high blood pressure
- You have hardened arteries
- You have a bicuspid aortic valve (two, instead of three cusps)
- You have known vascular irregularities
Being aware of your health conditions can help you spot early warning signs of an aneurysm that could save your life. If you miss the signs and your aneurysm ruptures, call 911 immediately.
How to know if your aortic aneurysm has ruptured
If the wall of your aorta tears or bursts, it could kill you. The artery bleeds profusely into your chest or abdominal cavity quickly. Here are some signs that your aorta has ruptured:
- Dramatic drop in blood pressure
- Passing out
- Intense chest and/or back pain
- Trouble breathing and swallowing
- Stroke-like symptoms (partial paralysis, difficulty speaking)
These are signs that you’re in grave danger, and you or someone nearby should call for emergency assistance.
The best way to avoid an event like this is to take preventive measures, especially if you’re at high risk for this condition. Our experienced team uses the latest technology to detect aortic aneurysms and monitor their growth and behavior. We can help you control the progression of some aneurysms through medications.
If your aortic aneurysm grows bigger than 2 inches, we may recommend surgery to prevent a rupture. If this is the case, you can rest assured you’re in the best hands here at Rockland Thoracic & Vascular. Our team includes leaders in the fields of cardiovascular health, anesthesiology, and vascular technology to ensure you receive comprehensive care from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Whether you already know you have an aortic aneurysm or think you might be at risk, now is the time to come in and begin the preventive care that could save your life. Call us at any of our five locations in New York and New Jersey or request an appointment online today.