Tommy Ford, the actor known for his role in the sitcom, ‘Martin,’ passed away at the young age of 52 after an aneurysm reportedly burst in his abdomen. What exactly is an aneurysm and how can you avoid it? Here is everything you need to know.
What Is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm or AAA?
The aorta, the largest blood vessel in the human body, carries blood from your heart to you pelvis, legs and abdomen. If the walls of the aorta become weak, they can swell and bulge out — when this happens in the abdomen, this is an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
There aren’t always symptoms.
Most people that have an abdominal aortic aneurysm do not suffer from any symptoms as often they grow so slowly they go unnoticed, Medtronic reports. However, not all are life-threatening and many never reach the point of bursting. If you are diagnosed with one, a doctor will monitor you closely. When the abdominal aneurysm expands, you may notice shock or loss of consciousness, increased heart rate, clammy skin, lower back pain, tenderness in your chest, or throbbing pains in the middle or lower part of your stomach.
While the cause is unknown, there are risk factors.
High blood pressure (or hypertension), vascular infection, and smoking could all contribute to AAAs, Healthline reports. Additionally, AAA is more likely to occur in males, overweight individuals, people over 60, and diabetics.
There is surgery to remove damaged tissue, but that will depend on size.
Either abdominal or endovascular surgery can be performed depending on the type of aneurysm. Open abdominal surgery can remove damaged areas of your aorta, but it is more invasive. Endovascular surgery involves using a graft to repair the weakened aorta walls.
There is an AAA screening.
When you turn 65 and are at the higher risk, your doctor can screen you for AAA — the test uses an ultrasound to scan your aorta and needs to only be performed once. It is painless.