If you frequently experience stomach aches, it’s possible that you may be dealing with a more serious issue than just indigestion. Abdominal aortic disease affects over 3 million people, where the walls of the aortic artery weaken, causing a bulge that can eventually rupture and lead to a life-threatening medical emergency.
If left undiagnosed for an extended period, this condition can worsen and become an urgent medical concern. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, back pain, fluctuating blood pressure, a racing pulse, and in some cases, an aneurysm or even death.
Therefore, it’s crucial to take stomach aches seriously, as they could be an indication of something more severe. In reality, your pain might be a blessing in disguise, as many individuals with abdominal aortic disease do not experience any symptoms and only discover their condition during a life-threatening event.
Abdominal Aortic Disease: What Causes It?
The aorta, along with the abdominal arteries, is responsible for carrying blood throughout the body and supplying organs with oxygen. However, when this system becomes obstructed, it can lead to complications.
Abdominal aortic disease can develop gradually over time, or it can occur suddenly due to a traumatic event. Studies have shown that there is a strong genetic and family component to this disease, and this predisposition can be further exacerbated by certain lifestyle factors.
If any of the following characteristics apply to you, you may be at a higher risk of developing abdominal aortic disease:
- You are over the age of 60
- You have atherosclerosis or a connective tissue disorder
- You have a family history of abdominal aortic disease or related conditions
- You have high cholesterol
- You have low or high blood pressure
- You smoke or used to smoke
- You have diabetes
- You are obese
- You have previously experienced an abdominal or other significant injury
By being aware of these risk factors and seeking medical attention promptly if you experience any symptoms, you can take proactive steps to manage and potentially prevent the progression of this disease.
To determine if you have abdominal aortic disease, there are a few steps you can take depending on your age and medical history.
For individuals over the age of 60 who have not been previously checked, it is recommended to schedule a check-up with a healthcare professional. If you are under 60 years old and display symptoms or have a family history of the disease, consulting a vascular specialist is recommended.
Vascular specialists have expertise in detecting and diagnosing various vein and artery disorders, including abdominal aortic disease. During your visit, your medical history and family history will be evaluated, and your specialist may order several diagnostic tests, such as a computed tomography scan (CAT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), echocardiogram, transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), chest X-ray, arteriogram (Angiogram), or aortic ultrasound, to better evaluate your condition.
Abdominal aortic disease can be treated with early intervention from a vascular specialist.
The treatment plan for this condition may involve lifestyle changes and medications with a watchful waiting approach. In some cases, surgery may be necessary, which can be either the surgical insertion of a vascular stent-graft to support the artery wall or endovascular aneurysm repair to fix a bulge in the aorta and prevent bleeding or rupture.
The compassionate team at Maryland Vascular Specialists will guide you through the treatment process and help you manage your abdominal pain. If you are experiencing symptoms or have concerns about your condition, contact MVS to schedule a consultation with one of our experts.