In the U.S., around 200,000 people are annually diagnosed with abdominal aneurysms, better known as the silent killer.

An aneurysm is a blood-filled inflation of a blood vessel caused by the weakening of the vessel’s wall. Aneurysms develop because of the general wear and tear of blood pressure on the artery walls, called hemodynamic forces.

“You can kind of think of it like an innertub. Everyone that’s old enough has seen an innertube inside a tire. And if you see a weak spot, there’s a bulge, an area where it dilates or gets too big. That’s what you worry about is a pop. Much like an inner tube, that the artery might pop,” Dr. Aaron Trachte, cardiovascular thoracic surgeon.

Dr. Aaron Trachte is a cardiovascular surgeon, who’s served Comanche County Memorial Hospital since 2004. He treats patients who have surgical issues involving cardiovascular disease, varicose veins, lung cancers, and anything that has to do with the chest.

Abdominal aneurysms often grow slowly, without symptoms, which is the dangerous part. According to the National Library of Medicine, it mainly affects white men 65 and older, and as it grows, some people have reported experiencing a pulsing feeling near their naval. Impending ruptures can typically show up as pain in the back, belly, or side.

Once a rupture happens signs like clammy skin, rapid heart rate, shock, dizziness, or even vomiting and passing out can show up. But that’s why Dr. Trachte says the key is testing, which is through ultrasounds. If an aneurysm is suspected, a (Cat) CT scan or MRI is conducted to provide more details on the shape and size.

“It happens because there’s a weak spot in the artery, so for it to occur there has to be some damage to the artery, which may come from smoking or from age. Usually, you have to have high blood pressure for a long period of time because it has to have time to grow,” he explained.

Ways to treat it, without surgery, is by repairing the arteries with stent-grafts, but if it’s become too large and painful, surgery will be required.

Dr. Trachte says you can lessen the risk by not smoking, eating healthier and working out, and by regulating your blood pressure and cholesterol.

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