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Aortic Aneurysms & Dissections

Provided by Escorts Heart Institute
Brought to you by Healthbase

An aneurysm is an abnormal swelling in a weakened blood vessel while dissection is said to have occurred when blood enters through a lengthwise tear between layers of the wall of aorta or an artery (a blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the body). These layers then separate and swell, making a thin walled balloon-like formation that causes severe pain. This condition can be a birth defect, a complication of disease like atherosclerosis or injury. High blood pressure also contributes to this disease.The patient may experience pain in chest, abdomen, or back, and may affect the hips and legs, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, blood in stools, fainting, difficulty in swallowing, or just headache.

The diagnosis can usually be arrived at following review of history, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG), CT scan (computerized x-rays), Angiogram (x-rays after a dye has been injected into an artery), Echocardiogram, and blood tests.

How is it done?
The preferred treatment is immediate surgery. The doctor will replace the weakened part of the artery with a graft made of artificial material, and is carried out with the help of heart lung machine on many occasions. Depending on the location of the aneurysm/dissection, aortic valve may have to be replaced in some situations. The coronary arteries may also have to be implanted on the new graft for continued blood supply to heart. After surgery, blood pressure and other vital signs will be monitored in the recovery room set up.

After Care
It is important to strictly follow certain guidelines as listed:

  • Stop smoking.

  • Maintain your ideal weight.

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes:

    • Low salt food.

    • Avoiding foods high in fat and cholesterol.

    • Increasing fiber in your diet.

    • Adequate precautions against constipation.

  • Exercise daily; walking is recommended.

  • Get enough rest and learn to use relaxation techniques to help reduce stress.

  • Keep blood pressure under control.


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