Are You Ready for a Life-Saving Screening?
Many vascular conditions develop without any noticeable symptoms, but this doesn’t mean they are not potentially dangerous. In fact, early diagnosis of these disorders is often the essential element in effective treatment and a positive prognosis. This is why Center for Vein Restoration offers a variety of life-saving assessments, including one to screen for a condition known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm or AAA.
What is AAA?
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlargement in the lower portion of the aorta, located in the abdominal region. The aorta is the main artery of the body, running from the heart down the torso. The lower part of the aorta is responsible for supplying blood to the legs.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are relatively common, affecting around 200,000 people in the United States every year, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery. Sadly, the condition is also the 15th most common cause of death in this country. For men over the age of 55, it is the 10th most common cause of death.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
An aneurysm in this area of the aorta can often develop without any noticeable signs. When symptoms do occur, it is often because the aneurysm has grown larger. Those symptoms might include:
- Intense back pain
- Deep, persistent abdominal pain
- Pulsating sensation near the navel
Individuals with any or all of these symptoms should make an appointment with a vascular specialist for a full assessment. However, there are also times when a screening may be recommended even if symptoms are not apparent. Anyone with the following risk factors for AAA may also consider a screening for the condition:
- Men over 60, particularly those with a history of smoking
- Men over 50 and women over 60 with a history of high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, high cholesterol or peripheral vascular disease
- Some women with a history of tobacco use
- Family history of aneurysms
The most dangerous complication of an AAA is the aneurysm rupturing. This is a life-threatening event that requires emergency medical attention. Symptoms of a rupture might include:
- Sudden, intense pain in the back or abdomen
- Profuse sweating or clamminess
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Rapid pulse and heart rate
Because the aorta is the largest artery in the body, rupture can lead to significant internal bleeding very quickly. At this point, treatment will be much more difficult to administer successfully.
The good news is screening for AAA is both quick and painless. In most cases, ultrasound imaging is used to see the aorta and detect any enlargement inside the vessel. Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to produce pictures of the aorta without the need for anesthesia and no recovery time after the procedure.
If an AAA is detected early, different treatment options may be available. In some cases, physicians may choose to monitor the AAA for a period of time. This can be the approach if the AAA is relative small or is not growing quickly. When the aneurysm is larger, surgical repair may be recommended. This can often be done through an endoscopic procedure that places a stent in the aorta near the aneurysm to strengthen the weak area and prevent rupture.
The first step in effectively treating an AAA is to detect the enlargement as soon as possible. This is where a screening at Center for Vein Restoration can be helpful and even life-saving in some cases. These screenings are inexpensive, painless and quick to complete. AVVC uses only registered vascular technologists (RVT’s) who are highly trained in vascular science, and the lab is one of only a handful of fully accredited vascular labs in the area. To learn more, or to schedule your life-saving screening today, contact Center for Vein Restoration.