The aorta is the longest blood vessel in the body and key to supplying blood flow. A ruptured aneurysm in the aorta is particularly deadly. Abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings can help prevent ruptured aneurysms, according to physicians at WVU's School of Medicine.
Aortic aneurysm ruptures have a mortality rate of 80 percent. Many people don't even make it to the hospital when it happens. Recent information from the United States Preventative Task Force and Medicare suggests abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings for men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have a history of smoking. "The screening is very easy it consists of an ultrasound test the is 95 percent sensitive and specific to detect the aneurysm and if they find that there is no aneurism or that the aorta is less than 3 cm then they don't ever need another ultrasound the rest of their life," said Dr. Pamela Zimmerman, a WVU vascular surgeon.
Women are less at risk for ruptures but may want to be tested if they are chronic smokers or have a family history of aortic aneurysm rupture. "Many people can have an aortic aneurysm and have no symptoms of it at all. Sometimes it's difficult to feel on a physical exam and that's why the only way really to detect it is with an ultrasound," said Dr. Zimmerman. "And it's important to know if you have it because things can be done such as operative repair to prevent it from rupturing.
Dr. Rolly Sullivan with WVU's School of Medicine advises that controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol, and quitting smoking can help prevent growth of aortic aneurysms. Abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings can be preformed by your primary care physician.