Lifesaving Screening can Help Detect the Silent Killer


An aneurysm is an enlargement of an artery. It can occur in the brain, chest, abdomen or extremities. In some aneurysms, as they enlarge, the wall of the artery becomes progressively thin and can lead to life-threatening rupture. This is typical of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).

Every year 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with an AAA and approximately 15,000 die each year from a ruptured AAA.

Unless you have hereditary tendencies for an aneurysm, most people don’t know much about aneurysms, their symptoms, causes, risk factors or how they manifest themselves.  Known as a silent killer, AAA’s occur when the wall of the aorta, which is an essential artery that supplies blood to your legs, weakens and bulges, and when left untreated, ruptures causing severe bleeding and possibly death.

Most often an AAA is detected when tests are conducted for other unrelated reasons.  Even though most people do not have any symptoms, there are symptoms you can be on the lookout for such as:

  • A pulsing feeling in the abdomen
  • Unexplained, severe pain in the abdomen or lower back
  • Pain, discoloration or sores on the feet.

Some risk factors that contribute to an AAA include:

  • Smoking
  • Family history of AAA
  • Ethnicity – white males
  • Age—individuals over 60 years are most likely to develop the condition
  • Gender—males are more prone to the condition than females
  • High blood pressure
  • History of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Chronic lung disease

Medicare offers a free, one-time AAA ultrasound screening for qualified seniors as part of their Welcome to Medicare physical during the first 12 months of their enrollment.  Men who have smoked sometime during their life and men and women with a family history of AAA are eligible for this benefit.

Vascular surgeons are the only physicians treating vascular disease who can perform all treatment options available including medical management, minimally invasive procedure such as angioplasty’s and stent procedures and open surgical bypass.

To learn more about AAA, watch our video on the Peripheral Vascular Associates YouTube channel

Peripheral Vascular Associates is proud to serve the San Antonio community and surrounding areas in vascular disease education, prevention, and treatment for over 43 years. Our vascular specialists are dedicated to helping our patients better understand how we can help them with vascular disease. If you would like more information about vascular health, please contact us or schedule an appointment at 210.237.4444.

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