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Old 06-05-2012, 04:21 PM
Stelios Stelios is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 283
Doctors - How Long Does It Take For An Aortic Aneurysm To Form?

Evenin' chaps, I'm currently writing some House fan fiction and I've got stuck on a minor plot point. Without giving too much away (cos I intend to share it here when I'm done), I need to know how long it takes for an aortic aneurysm to form. Is the time measured in weeks, months, or years? Or does it vary from person to person? What is the minimum mount of time it could take for one to form normally (ie. absent any sort of trauma to the aorta which could catalyse an aneurysm's development). I know they tend to affect older people, so does that mean they take some years? If it helps, the character is a hard living ex-rocker who has smoked a pack a day since he was 12 and does a lot of hard drugs.

Many thanks in advance!
Old 06-05-2012, 04:36 PM
Kimballkid Kimballkid is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,592
I first read that as erotic. Otherwise, I got nothin'.
Old 06-05-2012, 04:54 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
Posts: 7,544
There are two major types of aortic aneurysms: 1. thoracic (chest) 2. abdominal

The latter are more common and tend to grow relatively slowly, i.e. about 0.3 cm per year once identified. Once they reach a size of around 5.0 cm, the annual risk of rupture is about 10 percent or a bit less. Once they've hit 7.0 cm, you're looking at an annual rate of rupture of somewhere between about 30 and 50 percent. Please note that once it ruptures, the odds of surviving are rather slim, less than 50 percent, and much, much lower if you're not near immediate surgical intervention.

The root cause of abdominal aneurysms is not understood but both genetics and the traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis (smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) are involved. In fact, virtually all cases of abdominal aneurysms are associated with significant atherosclerosis.

Thoracic aneurysms are a completely different entity in terms of causes, management, and prognosis.


ETA: As a hard living ex-rocker, you might consider giving him a thoracic aneurysm due to syphilis (which does not cause abdominal aneurysms, only thoracic)

Last edited by KarlGauss; 06-05-2012 at 04:57 PM.
Old 06-05-2012, 05:52 PM
Stelios Stelios is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 283
KarlGauss, you are a gentleman and a scholar. Thanks a million, you've really helped me out.
Old 06-05-2012, 06:18 PM
VOW VOW is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: NE AZ
Posts: 2,390
My maternal grandmother had an abdominal aortic aneurysm. My mother had an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

As you might expect, I became QUITE interested in them. I talked to one of my mother's surgeons, who said MY chances of developing it were quite high.

MOST AAAs develop in men. George C Scott died from an AAA. Conway Twitty died from an AAA. Einstein died from an AAA.

That said, AAAs typically develop from some type of trauma. Steve Allen was in an auto accident and came home, apparently uninjured. He told his family he was "tired," and went to bed. An autopsy showed a ruptured AAA.

Most people who have non-trauma-caused AAAs don't even know they have them. It is usually discovered during some other type of exam. That said, along with genetics, the following contribute greatly to the development of AAAs: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.

If the aneurysm can be detected before it starts leaking, or before it ruptures, it CAN be repaired. If it is discovered in the very early stages, it can be handled via an angiogram-type method, where a new lining is deployed inside the aorta, and then allowed to expand.

I have regular ultrasounds done to look for the early stages of AAA. So far, there's been no sign.

If you have the opportunity, see a "Body Worlds" exhibit. The one I saw showed an actual AAA, which I found to be disturbingly fascinating.



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