Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Treating an Aneurysm?
At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital we have a team of specialists that are highly skilled in the most advanced procedures for treating aneurysms with the help of our fully-equipped hospital. Our doctors' professional skills and dedication combined with our hospital's state-of-the-art technology make you feel sure you are in the right hands. Our experienced team of clinicians is always exploring new tools and approaches to help patients and their families improve their quality of life by better managing the condition. Because every aneurysm is different and requires special care, our multidisciplinary team of physicians works together to find the best treatment tailored to your specific needs.
The presence of an aneurysm is characterized by a bulge in the wall of an artery. It happens when a weaker part of an artery balloons outwards due to the pressure of the blood passing through it.
Any blood vessel can have an aneurysm but they are most common in the belly or chest portion of the aorta or in the arteries of the brain.
The biggest threat an aneurysm poses is that it can burst and cause a stroke or massive internal bleeding.
It is important to note that the presence of an aneurysm often comes with mild or no symptoms so to diagnose it early and have the best chances you should opt for routine exams that help your doctor check for early warning signs.
An aneurysm may or may not require surgical intervention, depending on its location and size. In the case of some aneurysms, surgery may be required to reinforce the artery wall, but in the case of smaller, not so serious aneurysms, surgery comes second, after trying to manage it with medication and lifestyle changes. However, if an aneurysm ruptures, it requires emergency surgery.
Treatment options for an aneurysm may include:
- Monitoring. A "watchful waiting" approach can be enough for small aneurysms. The size and rate of growth of your aneurysm should be observed with ultrasounds every 6 months to 12 months.
- Managing risk factors. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, controlling blood sugar, maintaining an ideal weight, and controlling fat intake may help to control the progression of the aneurysm.
- Medicine. Factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure can be controlled through medicine.
- Surgical repair. Surgical repair is usually needed if the aneurysm leaks or ruptures.
Drugs that can help in the treatment of an aneurysm include:
- Beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers - relax your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure.
- Vasodilators - widen blood vessels, allowing blood to flow through more easily.
- Cholesterol medications - help keep cholesterol levels in check and lower your risk factor.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories - can prevent the growth of an aneurysm.
Consult with our team of physicians before going on any of these medications to avoid any negative complications.
The type of an aneurysm is given by its location in the body, as such:
- Aortic aneurysm – an aneurysm located on the aorta which is the large artery that comes from the left ventricle of the heart and passes through the chest and abdominal cavity. There are two types of aortic aneurysms, the most common one being the abdominal aortic aneurysm, found in the abdomen, and the less common, the thoracic aortic aneurysm, found in the chest.
- Cerebral aneurysm – an aneurysm of an artery that supplies the brain with blood.
- Peripheral aneurysm – an aneurysm that occurs in a peripheral artery. These are less likely to rupture than aortic ones. Types of peripheral aneurysms include:
- Popliteal aneurysm – behind the knee
- Splenic artery aneurysm – near the spleen
- Mesenteric artery aneurysm – in the arteries that deliver blood to the intestines
- Femoral artery aneurysm – in the groin
- Carotid artery aneurysm – in the neck
- Visceral aneurysm – in the bowel or kidneys
Symptoms of Aneurysms
Aneurysms can go unnoticed for years as people most often present little to no symptoms. This is why regular check-ups are important, especially if you have a history of aneurysms in your family or other risk factors are present.
Symptoms that may occur with different types of aneurysms include:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) - constant pain in the chest, abdomen, lower back, or groin area.
- Cerebral aneurysm - sudden, extremely intense headache, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion, seizure, loss of consciousness.
- Common iliac aneurysm - pain in the lower abdomen, back, or groin area.
- Femoral and popliteal artery aneurysm - a pulsating feeling in the groin or back of the knee, pain in the legs, sores on the feet.
Diagnosis of Aneurysms
The diagnosis procedures differ according to the location of the aneurysm. Tests for an aneurysm may include:
- CT scan. A CT scan is more detailed than a standard X-ray. In a CT scan, the doctor can see detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
- MRI. In the case of an MRI, large magnets, radio waves, and a computer are used to provide detailed images of organs and structures in the body.
- Echocardiogram (echo). This procedure is specially designed to evaluate the structure and function of the heart and provides a moving picture of the heart and heart valves.
- Arteriogram (angiogram). This is an X-ray image of the blood vessels used to evaluate various conditions, including aneurysms.
- Ultrasound. An ultrasound creates images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. An ultrasound is used to assess blood flow through vessels and view internal organs as they function.
Risk Factors for Aneurysms
There are several risk factors that contribute to the formation of aneurysms, categorized into two main groups, the ones you can't control and the ones you can. Two of the most significant ones are, fortunately, among those that can be controlled: cigarette smoking and high blood pressure (hypertension).
Other risk factors that you can control:
Risk factors that you can’t control include:
Causes for Aneurysms
Several things can cause aneurysms and they differ according to the type of aneurysm present, as such:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA):
- Cerebral aneurysm:
- Common iliac artery aneurysm:
- Femoral and popliteal artery aneurysm:
Alternative medicine may not play a direct role in curing an aneurysm, yet, but it can prevent one from forming and help relieve the associated symptoms if present.
Although no concrete studies have been published yet, scientists are currently studying new ways to use alternative medicine practices in the treatment and management of aneurysms, such as:
- Chinese herbal medicine – The unique properties of Chinese herbal medicine make it a potentially ideal therapy for diseases such as abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA).
- Acupuncture – There is no medical evidence to suggest that acupuncture can cure or prevent aneurysms from forming, but, it can help relieve the associated symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Several lifestyle choices play a big role in the development of an aneurysm, which is a good thing, this means that by taking care of yourself and by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can considerably reduce your risk of having an aneurysm form in your body.
Lifestyle choices you can make to prevent an aneurysm:
- Make healthy diet choices:
- Choose fresh, whole foods over processed ones.
- Limit fatty meats
- Eat fried or fast foods only in moderation or eliminate them from your diet
- Opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy
- Choose whole grains and complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice or whole-grain bread, over white carbohydrates, like white rice or white bread.
- Avoid or limit sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda, fruit juice, and energy drinks.
- Keep your blood pressure levels in check. As a dietary choice, you can try to opt for the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet which focuses on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- Lower High Cholesterol. To lower bad cholesterol, limit saturated and trans fats, eat foods high in soluble fiber and to help promote good cholesterol, eat more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as:
- Nuts and seeds, like walnuts, pecan nuts, flaxseeds, sunflower, and chia seeds
- Plant oils, like flaxseed oil, soybean oil, cold-pressed sunflower oil, and canola oil
- Wild rice
- Oat bran
- Make exercise a part of your routine.
- Reduce and manage stress levels. There are several ways to naturally reduce stress levels, such as: