The aorta is the main artery of the body, which moves oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the circulatory system. The aorta leaves the heart from the left ventricle, then passes over the heart and runs through the center of the body reaching the brain and the legs.
An aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the aorta. The bulge creates a thin, weak spot in the artery. Due to the thinning of the arterial wall associated with an aneurysm, a rupture of the aneurysm is possible. This condition can develop in any part of the aorta, but it is most common in the abdomen and the upper body, which is also called the thorax. While the walls of the aorta are very elastic to adjust to blood flow, conditions like high cholesterol, hypertension and atherosclerosis can weaken the artery. Most of the time, aortic aneurysms are symptomless and are found when a doctor performs a screening or test for a different condition.
There are two kinds of surgery most often employed to repair aortic aneurysms. Endovascular repair is the minimally invasive option. The surgeon will make a small incision, usually in the groin of the patient, and will use catheterization to feed surgical instruments and a camera up to the aortic artery. Then he will install a stent and grafting to support and repair the arterial wall. During open surgery, the surgeon will make a larger incision in the patient’s abdomen to expose the aorta for treatment. Once the patient is ready, the surgeon will repair the aneurysm with a graft. As with any surgery, there are risks involved, so Dr. Almond will discuss the procedures and the associated risks before taking a decision on if surgery is necessary and if so, the best procedure for the patient. Conditions and symptoms that indicate surgery is necessary include:
The best way to keep aortic aneurysms from forming is to reduce the factors that can lead to their development. For example, those who smoke should try to quit. Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise also helps to maintain overall and cardiovascular health. Dr. Almond will be able to provide advice on the appropriate exercise levels to help his patients build and maintain stronger and healthier bodies.
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