An aneurysm is a weak spot on an artery wall that balloons out due to pressure from the blood. Because many times, aneurysms have no detectable symptoms, they are often referred to as the “silent killers.” They can result from an accumulation of fatty deposits on the blood vessel wall, and also can be due to family history, trauma or other disease, such as high blood pressure or atherosclerosis. The wall of an artery must be strong enough to withstand the pressure of blood being pumped through the vessel to other parts of the body. When aneurysm disease is present, the artery becomes less durable and actually stretches very slowly over time until the aneurysm is formed. Symptoms typically do not appear until the condition is well advanced or a complication occurs.
There are a number of different types of aneurysms and each are named for the area, or artery, in which they occur. The following is a brief description of general types of aneurysms.
Aortic aneurysm: a distention, or ballooning out, of part of the wall of the aorta - the heart’s main artery. Another type of aortic aneurysm can occur in the abdomen, referred to as - abdominal aortic aneurysm - and is normally caused by atherosclerosis. Aortic aneurysms also can be caused by a breakdown of the muscular, middle layer of the artery wall, by high blood pressure, or by direct injury.
Atrial aneurysm: A bulging of part of the wall of one of the heart’s upper chambers. This type of aneurysm has been associated with an increased risk of stroke.
Cerebral aneurysm: Occurs at a weak point in the artery wall that supplies blood to the brain. Because of the flaw, the artery wall bulges outward. If not detected, this type of aneurysm can rupture, causing permanent brain damage, disability, or death
Ventricular aneurysm: A ballooning out of part of the wall of one of the heart’s lower chambers, usually the left. In some, this condition has been present since birth. It also may be attributed to a complication of a heart attack or other trauma to the heart.
If you think you may be at risk for an aneurysm, please seek a physical examination from your primary care physician immediately.
coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease occurs when the coronary arteries become partially blocked or clogged. This blockage limits the flow of blood from the major arteries supplying blood to the heart. When the blockage is limited, chest pain or pressure called angina may occur. Another symptom may include shortness of breath, especially after stress or exercise. However, nearly 30 percent of patients experience no symptoms, despite the presence of coronary artery disease.
Patients who do experience one or more symptoms should consult with their physician as soon as possible. A number of examinations and procedures to determine the existence of coronary artery disease, and to reduce its effects, can be performed in the OLBH Vascular Center. The advanced technology at the OLBH Vascular Center allows us to virtually see the body’s coronary arteries. Through a minimally invasive exam and the aid of therapeutic devices, a high-quality image of the heart and coronary arteries is created. After a diagnosis is confirmed, coronary artery disease treatments are normally based on the severity of the disease, the location of any blockages in the blood vessels and the overall health of the patient.
If your family medical history includes heart disease, or if you have one or more risk factors for cardiovascular conditions - high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes - or if you smoke, speak to your doctor about how changes in lifestyle and behavior can reduce the speed at which heart-related problems develop.
To learn more about the OLBH Vascular Center, please call the OLBH CareLine at 606-833-CARE (2273).
peripheral vascular disease
The first symptoms of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) usually include aches, cramps, or leg pain when walking or exercising. Pain, in this instance, occurs because the muscles in the legs are not getting the proper amount of oxygenated blood to the arteries in the body’s lower extremities. PVD is the technical term for this blockage.
PVD is caused by atherosclerosis. As the disease progresses, symptoms also may include numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg or arm; coldness of the leg, foot, arm, hand, or fingers; paleness of the leg, foot, arm, or hand when elevated; blue or red discoloration of the feet, toes, arms, or fingers; and sores that don’t heal.
The test for PVD is simple and painless. PVD screenings involve an ankle-brachial index (ABI). This involves placing a blood pressure cuff around the patient’s ankle, and obtaining a blood pressure reading from the artery in their foot with a Doppler ultrasound. The blood pressure is measured in both legs as well as in the patient’s arms. Based on the results of the ABI, along with the patient’s risk factors and symptoms for the disease, it can be determined if further evaluation is needed.
The best treatment for PVD depends on a variety of clinical factors. In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to halt progression and help patients to manage the disease. Medications that lower cholesterol or control high blood pressure also may be prescribed.
When lifestyle changes or medications do not alleviate PVD symptoms, a number of advanced procedures are offered by the OLBH Vascular Center to open the arteries and restore blood flow to the affected area. In many cases, the procedures to correct PVD are minimally invasive and do not involve surgery. A number of talented physicians at OLBH are capable of successfully repairing vascular conditions, leading to an improved quality of life for the patient.
If you or someone you love are affected by any of the vascular conditions listed above, talk to your family physician or call the OLBH CareLine at 606-833-CARE (2273) for a free physician referral or to find out more information concerning the OLBH Vascular Center.