The aorta is a major vessel that supplies blood throughout your body. It runs directly from the heart through the chest and to the abdomen. It’s the largest artery, distributing oxygenated blood, and is essential to the function of the vascular system. Without it, your body wouldn’t receive oxygen-rich blood, which is crucial to survival. That’s why, when there are health concerns related to the aorta, it’s essential to your health to address the issues right away. This may include emergency surgery.
What Is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?
This aorta works under immense pressure, and if there is a weakness in the vessel, this pressure can cause it to become enlarged, resulting in an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). AAAs are the most common form of aorta aneurysms. However, they've rightfully received the nickname "silent killer" because of the low survival rates. This is due to the fact that most AAAs go unnoticed. Their formation is slow, showing few noticeable symptoms. Since the aorta is crucial to the body, if an AAA goes unnoticed and ruptures, it is often life-threatening.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Symptoms
If you are experiencing any of these abdominal aneurysm symptoms, it’s likely that you are at risk of a ruptured aortic artery and need to seek emergency surgery. Keep in mind that all symptoms are different, and some AAAs never rupture. If you believe you are at risk of a ruptured AAA, seek local medical staff immediately—or call 911.
- Severe abdominal back pain
This pain is often sudden, persistent, and severe. It can spread through the groin, legs, and buttocks, and is the most common sign of a possible AAA rupture. While the triad of pain is a telltale sign of AAA, only half of all people will experience the full triad. If the pain triad is present, and there is a family history of AAA, it's more likely to be AAA. In these cases, you may need emergency surgery.
Hypotension, or low blood pressure, is common in AAA patients. A rupture in the AAA results in an increasingly significant loss of blood. This loss of blood results in less blood flow throughout arteries and veins, which causes low blood pressure.
When the body loses significant amounts of blood, it often leads to hypovolemic, or hemorrhagic, shock. During this shock, the body tries to compensate for the loss of blood by speeding up the heart rate and redirecting blood flow to important organs—such as the heart and brain.
- Cold, Pale, and Clammy
Loss of blood often results in a cold, pale, and clammy feeling. These feelings are often the results of the hypovolemic shocks the body experiences. The diversion of blood forces the body to work on overdrive. Nausea and vomiting often occur. Often, AAAs can produce blood clots that prevent blood from flowing to certain parts of the body, resulting in cold, or black-and-blue, body parts.
- Dizziness and Disorientation
Due to the loss of blood caused by a ruptured (or near rupturing) AAA, less blood will be able to reach the lungs. Less blood reaching the lungs results in less oxygenated blood throughout the body, causing oxygen levels to drop and resulting in dizziness, disorientation, and often loss of consciousness.
- Pulsating in the Chest
A pulsating feeling, often noticeable in the lower chest near the belly button, could be a warning sign for AAA. The mass in the lower abdomen will often pulsate or throb due to the pressure that it’s placing on the body.
To learn more about the risks of and treatments for abdominal aortic aneurysms, visit South Valley Vascular. Our staff can provide resources with information about the cause, risk, and threats of abdominal aortic aneurysms. Should you need surgery, you will be in excellent hands with our team of experts. No matter your needs, we will provide you with the best medical care available.