Your aorta is a large blood vessel that supplies many parts of your body with fresh, oxygen-rich blood. An aortic aneurysm — a bulge in the wall of your aorta — weakens the aorta wall, and can cause dangerous, even life-threatening complications if it leaks (dissects) or ruptures.
If an aneurysm tears, it can dramatically reduce normal blood flow, starving your body of the necessary supply of oxygen. A full aortic rupture causes massive internal bleeding and loss of consciousness.
As part of our cardiology services, Dignity Health Central California provides emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Seek immediate medical attention if you or someone around you is experiencing symptoms of a burst aneurysm. Call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room for urgent aortic aneurysm treatment in Central California.
Treating Aortic Aneurysms at Dignity Health Central California
The location and the severity of an aortic aneurysm influence your treatment options. Small abdominal aortic aneurysms may not need treatment, other than monitoring for signs of growth. Thoracic (chest) aortic aneurysms are more likely to require treatment.
Generally, aortic aneurysms that grow quickly or are larger than two inches require surgical intervention. Surgical options include:
- Endovascular stent placement. Also called endovascular aneurysm repair, this surgery involves the implantation of a stent (piece of sturdy mesh) to reinforce the weakened part of the aorta wall to keep it from bulging. This is a minimally invasive procedure, performed through an incision in your groin.
- Aortic graft placement. In this procedure, a severely damaged portion of the aorta is replaced with a plastic or fabric graft. Open heart surgery is necessary to accomplish this task for most thoracic aortic aneurysms — although some can be accessed from the side of the chest, through the ribs. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are repaired through an incision in the abdomen.
Emergency surgery is necessary for any leaking or ruptured aortic aneurysm.
How to Prevent Aortic Aneurysms
Aortic aneurysms can occur in otherwise healthy people. However, you can lower your risk for aortic aneurysms by following these tips:
- Quit smoking (smoking is a major risk factor in men).
- Treat known heart conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet.
For a more detailed discussion of aneurysm prevention strategies, or any other cardiovascular concern, use our Find a Doctor tool and choose a Dignity Health cardiology specialist in Central California.
Dignity Health Central California offers personalized cardiovascular care, including aortic aneurysm treatment, in Bakersfield and Stockton, CA.