BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Your aorta is your body's main supplier of blood. An aneurysm — which occurs when a part of the artery's wall weakens can be life-threatening.
A little more than 2 years ago, James Fiorentino was at the VA hospital getting a normal checkup. The nurse asked if he wanted a cat scan of his aorta, he agreed.
"If she hadn't asked me — if the VA had not asked me — who knows what would have happened," Fiorentino said.
He had an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or a Triple A. His aneurysm was 3 centimeters large.
"This is a model of the aorta, and this would be the kidney arteries and instead of being round, 2 centimeters, as you can see this is stretched out. And the problem with stretching the artery, you can only stretch it so far, and if you don't pay attention to that, these will rupture and they cause sudden death," said Dr. Anil Chhabra, an interventional cardiologist with Willis-Knighton.
Most anyone who has an abdominal aortic aneurysm will not have any symptoms, but they do affect certain people.
"White male, smoker, with family history and high cholesterol," Chhabra said.
Fiorentino did not have any symptoms. He had to wait until his aneurysm measured 5 centimeters before anything could be done.
"That was very, very, very rough. Because here I am walking around with a time bomb in my stomach," Fiorentino said. "It was like I had to wait it was 5 [cm], when I found out it was 3.8 [cm] so that was over 2 years, 3 years that I was on pins and needles."
In August 2017, he was able to finally get a procedure done to treat his aneurysm.
"It was 2 little incisions in the groin, and Dr. Chhabra went in there with his whatever he did," Fiorentino said. "I call them his magic hands. Whatever he did, I woke up and 3 days later I was walking around."
"It's a new procedure, or a newer procedure, where we can actually insert a new tube called a stent graft that's made up of sheath and metal, and then when the blood comes down, instead of hitting the wall, which is stretched out and weakened with every beat, it goes through the new tubing so to say to deliver blood," Dr. Chhabra said.
There are ways to help prevent getting an abdominal aortic aneurysm:
- Don't use tobacco products
- Eat a healthy diet
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control
- Get regular exercise