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Risk Factors for Aortic Aneurysms

Posted at 8:42 AM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 09:42:49-04

Living in the Midwest may bring with it a more comfortable, slower lifestyle, but it also brings a hidden risk.

People who live in what some call the 'Aneurysm Beltway' face a greater risk of dying from aortic disease than anywhere else in the country.

The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body.

Bulges in this artery are called aneurysms, if it bursts it is usually fatal.

Jack Bell was lucky to survive. He said, "It's called the silent killer. You could have one right now and not even know it until it ruptured."

Vascular Surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Bath, said, "Informally, we have this aneurysm beltway that runs through the Midwest, and it's a clustering of these risk factors."

Men over fifty are at the greatest risk.

Smoking and family history are also risk factors.

When you combine these risk factors with living in rural areas and more than hour away from a doctor you have a deadly scenario.

Jack's mother and grandmother died of ruptured aneurysms.

It put him at high-risk.

But he was lucky. The problem with a free screening.

"One area we can really improve," Dr. Bath said, "is in screening making sure people understand that this can happen to anybody your father, your brother, someone you care for."

Screening is a simple, painless ultrasound that can catch a deadly disease before it's too late.

Dr. Bath recommends men be screened around age 65 as part of their routine physical exams.

If an aneurysm is detected, doctors will monitor it regularly.

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