Aneurysms – facts & stories

By Sophia van Gent

Fact: aneurysms contribute to 25,000 deaths in the United States every year. One in 100 people with aneurysms will suffer a rupture.

Aneurysms are an excessive localized swelling of the wall of an artery and form silently from the wear and tear on the arteries. The disease that causes aneurysms is not fully understood, although there are some risk factors that can be managed.

They can occur anywhere throughout the circulatory system, and the most common place for an aneurysm is the aorta (which is the main artery of the body that supplies oxygenated blood to the circulatory system) and in the blood vessels of the brain.

Symptoms of an aneurysm depend on the affected blood vessel, but an aneurysm usually is asymptomatic until it is very large or it ruptures. They usually occur because of the weakness in the blood vessel wall due to high blood pressure over many years, inherited diseases, trauma, or sometimes the cause can remain unknown.

36-year-old American Loralean Jordan survived an aortic aneurysm after suffering symptoms of shortness of breath, burning in the back area and two different blood pressures in each arm for about a year before doctors were able to find out what was wrong.

“They said it was a weak spot born with it and to fix it was [with] open heart surgery. I knew something was wrong. I knew I wasn’t imagining things,” she said in an interview for the American Heart Association.

“You know your body and when you don’t feel well, go in, ” Jordan added.

For Forbes’ blog writer Tony Nitti, the real challenge after suffering a brain aneurysm started after the healing process.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout this process, it’s that when recovering from a life-threatening ailment, the real challenge often doesn’t begin until the healing is complete,” Nitti wrote in a blog post.

“Because of these terrifying statistics, there simply aren’t that many aneurysm survivors among us, and many of those who do survive are not as fortunate as I was, and suffer either enough of a bleed or complications from surgery that leave them unable to return to an active lifestyle.”

A few months after the surgery, Nitti and his wife discovered that they were expecting. It was this moment that Nitti refused to be bogged down with negativity and start being positive.

“In light of those factors, why not me? I began to feel that I owed it to other aneurysm survivors, to future aneurysm sufferers, to take advantage of my good fortune and reclaim my life with no concessions, no sacrifices. So that the next person who was given the same chilling diagnosis could hopefully find my story and rest assured that a happy ending was indeed possible,” Nitti wrote.

Sophia van Gent is a Perth-based freelance writer, whose written work has been published in Colosoul, Atma Cycles and Pelican Magazine. You can see more of her work at hirquitalliency.wordpress.com.

By Sophia van Gent

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