Preventing The Aneurysm – A Silent Killer

2010-01-29 | |
Last updated: 2010-01-29

Dangerous medical conditions that can take the lives of patients with little advance warning are usually referred to as “silent killers”. Such health conditions are often difficult to detect because patients frequently experience no symptoms that would normally trigger a visit to their doctor. Once such a condition shows itself, however, immediate treatment is usually required to prevent significant disability or even death. One of many such silent killers is the aneurysm (aneurism).

What Is An Aneurysm?

When the wall of an artery or vein becomes weak, the blood pressure pushing on that weakened area can cause it to balloon over time and fill with blood. This is usually not an issue by itself, but will quickly become a life-threatening problem if the wall of the artery or vein ruptures and internal bleeding takes place. The greater the aneurysm has grown, the greater the risk is that it will rupture.

Ruptured aneurysms in the major blood vessels of the chest cavity, the stomach area or abdomen, the thighs and the brain are the most likely to be fatal. This is because significant internal blood loss can occur from ruptures in these areas of the body.

How Common Are Aneurysms?

In Britain, more than 6000 people die annually from aneurysms in the chest and stomach. In Canada, the numbers are about 1000. In the US, stomach aneurysms kill 15000 people per year, while brain aneurysms kill roughly 17000 people.

In the population, aneurysms in the stomach area, called abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), are some of the most common affecting as much as 9% of men over 65. These aneurysms are most frequent for men who are 3.5 to 5 times more likely to have an aneurysm than women. For aneurysms in the chest area, men have 1.5 times the risk that women do of developing this type of aneurysm.

All that said, the risk of death and disability from an aneurysm is higher for women who develop them. For aneurysms in the brain, a study from the University of Michigan found that women have 1.7 times the risk of aneurysm rupture compared to men. For aneurysms in the stomach area, women have 1.4 times the risk of dying if the aneurysm is treated whether or not it has ruptured. When considering aneurysms in the chest area, women have 4 times the risk of aneurysm rupture than men.

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Category: Health Risks, Medical Research, Medical Treatment

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