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Abdominal Pain? It Could Be Abdominal Aortic Disease

If you get frequent stomach aches, it could be much worse than indigestion. More than 3 million people have abdominal aortic disease, a condition where the aortic artery walls weaken, causing a bulge that may rupture ultimately leading to a life-threatening medical issue.
If it goes undiagnosed too long, this condition can worsen, making it an emergent medical condition. It can also lead to abdominal pain, back pain, low or high blood pressure, a racing pulse, and in some cases an aneurysm or death.
This is why it’s so important to take stomach aches seriously. In fact, your pain could really be a blessing in disguise. Many people with abdominal aortic disease have no symptoms and don’t discover it until a life-threatening event occurs.

Why Do People Develop Abdominal Aortic Disease?

Your aorta is what helps your blood flow throughout your body and replenish the oxygen supply to your organs, along with the help of your abdominal arteries. But when this system becomes bogged down it can’t flow freely.
Sometimes a bulge forms gradually over time, and sometimes it happens all at once in a traumatic event. Research has shown that there is a strong genetic/family component to abdominal aortic disease and this predisposition can be compounded by certain lifestyle factors.
Do any of the following characteristics sound like you? If so, you’re more likely to have abdominal aortic disease.

  • You’re over age 60
  • You have atherosclerosis or a connective tissue disorder
  • You have a family history of abdominal aortic disease or related conditions
  • Your cholesterol is high
  • You have low or high blood pressure
  • You’re a cigarette smoker or used to smoke
  • You have diabetes
  • You’re obese
  • You had an abdominal injury or another type of large or traumatic injury

How Do I Find Out if I Have Abdominal Aortic Disease?

If you are over age 60 and have never been checked for abdominal aortic disease, now is the time for a checkup. Or, if you’re under age 60 and you have a family history of the disease or are showing symptoms like those described above, contact a vascular specialist to discuss your options.
A vascular specialist has a thorough knowledge of body-wide vein and artery disorders including abdominal aortic disease. These specialists use many methods to detect and diagnose your condition.
In addition to looking at your medical history and family history, your doctor at Maryland Vascular Specialists may order any of these tests and exams:

  • Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Arteriogram (angiogram)
  • Aortic Ultrasound

Is Abdominal Aortic Disease Treatable?

This is a treatable disease if you pursue early intervention with the help of a vascular specialist. The treatment for abdominal aortic disease is sometimes a watchful waiting approach, supported by lifestyle changes and medications.
If surgery is required, you will likely have one of the two following types:

  • Surgical insertion of a vascular stent-graft, which is a tube to support the artery wall
  • Endovascular aneurysm repair to fix a bulge in the aorta and prevent bleeding/rupture

The caring experts Maryland Vascular Specialists will support you through this process and help you find relief from your abdominal pain. Contact us now to discuss your options.
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