Aneurysm is a permanent protrusion of the artery due to the weakness of its wall. Aneurysms can be created everywhere, but they are most common and painful when they appear on the arteries of the head or on aorta. There are three basic reasons for creating aneurysms in the artery:
Of the four layers that make up the arterial wall, the artery’s strength gives a muscle layer, and this layer may be defective. Some people are actually born with such an arterial network where part of the layer or whole layer is damaged in some place. Because of the normal blood pressure in the arteries, balloon-like protrusions occur in this area. Aneurysms due to an inherited defect are almost always found in brain-based arteries. Because of their shape and size, they are known as “clumpy” (bulky) aneurysms.
Regardless of the cause, inflammation may weaken the artery wall. Syphilis was once a common cause of inflammation of the artery, which led to the creation of aneurysm, but this is no longer the case due to the effective treatment of antibiotics. Most aneurysms today are caused by disorders such as periarthritis or bacterial endocarditis.
Part of the arterial wall can slowly degenerate due to chronic illnesses such as atherosclerosis or high blood pressure. Aneurism, which is the result of atherosclerosis, can have a shape of a cobalt projection along the short artery artery (“spindle” aneurysm). High blood pressure can cause similar type of protrusion. However, high blood pressure can stretch the wall in a variety of ways. Because of it, the layers can crack and the blood flows between them, forming the so-called dissecting aneurysm.
Aneurysms can cause a series of problems. Aneurism can crack, leading to loss of blood supply to certain tissues as well as internal bleeding in that area. It can also swell so that it compresses and damages neighboring organs, nerves, and other blood vessels. Aneurysm can also cause blood flow disorders to the extent that blood clots develop.
Symptoms differ, as we have already mentioned, by the type, size and location of the projection. In the case of berry aneurysms there are no symptoms until they break. Sudden severe pain in the back or even numbness may be the first sign of trouble. If you have an aortic aneurysm, the symptoms will depend on the part of the aorta on which aneurysm has occurred and on the type of aneurysm. Aneurysms on other parts of the body are rare and generally without symptoms.
The most common symptoms of aneurysms in the thoracic part of the aorta (i.e. aorta that passes through the chest) are chest pain, hoarseness, swelling problems, and persistent cough that does stop even after taking cough remedies. If it is a dissecting aneurysm, the patient will have pains that can easily be confused with coronary thrombosis, and aorta is usually seen as a pulsating bruise. Less specific signs of such aneurysms are loss of appetite and weight loss. If the aneurysm is located on the back, it can exert pressure on the spinal bone, causing severe back pain. Dissecting aneurysms of abdominal aorta are relatively rare and their symptom is a very strong abdominal pain.
Berry aneurysms, which originate from natural defects, can cause problems at any age, and most commonly occur in people under the age of 65. The possibility of obtaining such aneurysm is slightly higher if there is someone with such defect in the immediate family. Other types of aneurysms are rare in people under 65 years of age.
The main danger is the risk of aneurysm rupture, and the result is internal bleeding. If that happens, blood enters the surrounding tissues causing severe local damage. Moreover, the entire blood flow system can collapse if blood leakage significantly reduces the volume of blood circulatory. If the doctor does not help immediately, aortic aneurysm can cause death.
Even when it does not crack, aortic anoreurism causse disorders in bloodstream that can end with the creation of a blood clot with all the dangers it brings. Emboluses that are removed from the clot may clog up smaller arteries, for example those that supply the kidneys with blood, resulting in damage that leads to acute renal failure. From the aortic damage, the aortic heart muscle can be stretched and cause insufficiency of the aorta.
Aneurysms sometimes occur in the arteries of the upper and lower limbs. These aneurysms are not as dangerous as the berry aneurysms or those that occur in the aorta.
What to do?
When it comes to berry aneurysms, you can not do anything, because you will probably not know that you have it until it cracks. If you have any aortic aneurysm symptoms or if you get bruising anywhere in your body for an inexplicable cause – especially in the abdomen, and if it still hurts – contact your doctor immediately. Many symptoms may cause other, often insignificant conditions, so your doctor will be examined in detail before making a definitive diagnosis. In order to determine the size, type and site of aneurysm, an extensive X-ray, then arteriography and ultrasound examination will be required.
Self-help: try to prevent or slow the onset of atherosclerosis and control your blood pressure. If aneurysm has already been created, there are no effective self-help measures.
Professional help: aneurysms are usually surgically treated, but the surgeon must take into account its location, size and condition of other arteries before deciding to operate. Operation is tough and dangerous. When the aorta or peripheral artery aneurysms are removed, the arteries at the end of the artery can sometimes reconnect. However, it is more common to replace the removed part of the body with a transplant or synthetic material, e.g. teflon.
Berry aneurysms are almost always revealed on the examination after the aneurysm spasm. The remaining projections are then separated from the blood stream by closing the “door” of each aneurysm with a metal or plastic clasp. This operation is usually successful, though the blood from the cracked aneurysm might already expire and cause damage.
Approximately 30% of people with ruptured berry aneurysms die shortly thereafter, and another 15% die from further bleeding after several weeks. People who survived six months after the surgery have better chances of survival.
Surgical treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysms is often not possible, and long-term outcomes are weak. For those that can be operated, survival odds are 80 to 90%. Aneurysms in the abdominal cavity must be removed only if they are very large or if they grow. With or without surgery the odds are good, and this also applies to peripheral arterial aneurysms. However, it should be noted that many aneurysms are due to some general illnesses, such as atherosclerosis, that may also affect other blood vessels.