Aortic Aneurysms Oakville

Aortic Aneurysms

What is an Aortic Aneurysm?

The Aorta is the largest artery in the body, and it carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The aorta has thick walls that ordinarily can withstand the high pressure of blood coursing through it. However, the walls can be damaged or weakened by certain medical problems such as hypertension, infections, genetic predisposition or even traumatic injury.  This results in an outpouching of the arterial wall, which is known as an aortic aneurysm. 

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA)

These are aneurysms that occur within the aorta that courses through the chest cavity.

graphic showing what a Aortic Aneurysm looks like

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

These are aneurysms that occur within the aorta that courses through the abdominal cavity. 

What complications can occur with an aneurysm?

It is important to be monitored by a cardiovascular specialist if an aneurysm is present, to mitigate risk factors, prevent devastating complications, and to determine if or when an intervention such as surgery is appropriate. An aneurysm can continue to enlarge for many years without symptoms, until a devastating consequence occurs. This includes:

Aortic Dissection

A tear within the lining of the arterial wall. This will allow blood to leak into the lining of the wall, which narrows the artery lumen, and reduces blood flow to vital organs. Over time, this could also lead to rupture of the vessel wall, as the pressure of blood flow within the lining of the wall builds up. This could be a life-threatening situation, depending on the size, location and type of dissection. 

Aortic Rupture

A rupture of the aortic wall, which causes internal bleeding, and can be fatal. This is always an emergency and immediate medical attention at your local emergency room is imperative!

What are the risk factors for an aneurysm?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, in the absence of a genetic predisposition for an aneurysm, you can lower the likelihood of developing an aneurysm by managing hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and abstaining from smoking. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, including dietary modifications, daily moderate intensity exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight have cumulative benefits in preventing the formation of an aneurysm. 

Your cardiovascular specialist will work with you to improve risk factors, such as hypertension management, cholesterol management, and assisting with smoking cessation. These interventions help slow the growth of the aneurysm.  Secondly, your cardiovascular specialist will schedule routine screenings of the aneurysm to monitor the growth rate. This is done by various imaging modalities, including echocardiography, CT-imaging and/or MRI studies. The timing of referral to a vascular surgeon for an intervention may also be discussed, based on the results of these imaging studies. 

Still have a question about aortic aneurysms? Speak to your doctor about a referral to the Chahal Cardiovascular Centre for a cardiovascular consultation.