Empowering Aneurysm Warriors, Building Bright Tomorrows

Ascending Aortic Aneurysm

The Challenges of Living with an Aortic Aneurysm

Imagine the aorta, the body’s vital highway carrying life-giving blood from the heart, developing a dangerous bulge. It is the reality of an aortic aneurysm, where a weakened section of the aorta balloons outward. Whether it is an abdominal aortic aneurysm or a thoracic aortic aneurysm, it can lead to severe internal bleeding and, in many cases, fatal. 

Receiving the news of an aortic aneurysm can be emotionally overwhelming and trigger anxiety. The physical challenges are equally daunting, with treatment options ranging from close monitoring to complex surgical procedures. 

This article delves deeper into the world of aortic aneurysms, exploring the silent danger they present, the emotional rollercoaster of diagnosis, and the various avenues of treatment available.

The Constant Threat

Atherosclerosis and uncontrolled high blood pressure exert significant strain on the aorta. It contributes to the development and progression of aneurysms. Smoking emerges as an important risk factor, further escalating the vulnerability to aneurysm formation. Age is also a significant determinant, with a higher prevalence in individuals over 60.

The insidious nature of aortic aneurysms lies in their ability to progress stealthily, devoid of any noticeable symptoms in their early stages. You become painfully aware of its presence when the aneurysm reaches a critical size or ruptures. Beyond rupture, it may also lead to other potential complications like organ damage and blood clots.

This lack of symptoms creates a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows early detection through screening, potentially preventing rupture. But on the other hand, it may leave you in a state of anxiety and uncertainty. The fear of the unknown, the constant worry about the aneurysm growing or rupturing, can be a heavy burden to bear.

Everyday aches and pains, which you may have dismissed in the past, now become sources of heightened concern. This tendency to misinterpret familiar bodily sensations as potential aneurysm symptoms add an extra layer of stress to the already challenging experience of living with an asymptomatic condition.

Altered Lifestyle

You must understand the delicate balance between maintaining an active life and protecting the weakened blood vessels. Heavy lifting, straining, and anything significantly raising blood pressure become off-limits. While crucial for preventing rupture, these restrictions can feel confining, leading to isolation and loss of freedom.

Adding another layer of complexity is the medication regimen. Controlling blood pressure with medication becomes paramount, but the side effects can further impact your quality of life. Fatigue, dizziness, and even sexual dysfunction are potential consequences, creating an additional burden on an already challenging situation.

The emotional toll of navigating these restrictions can lead to isolation, as social engagements may require careful consideration and moderation. The fear of judgment or concern from others can make open communication about the condition difficult, further reinforcing feelings of isolation.

The Emotional Toll

The fear and worry of worst-case scenarios haunt you as you contemplate the possibility of an aneurysm rupture and its dire consequences. 

The burden doesn’t fall solely on you. Your family members and friends grapple with their worries, often torn between expressing concern and wanting to protect you. Their worry manifests in overprotectiveness, their vigilance creating friction and strain in your relationships. 

The constant underlying fear, the limitations imposed by the condition, and the stress of managing treatment may increase your risk of anxiety and depression. The weight of uncertainty and the limitations imposed by the condition can contribute to a pervasive sense of helplessness, further exacerbating the challenges of maintaining positive mental well-being.

Monitoring and Hope

When you receive a diagnosis, frequent checkups become a constant reality. Diagnostic tools such as ultrasounds, CT scans, and other imaging modalities play a pivotal role in monitoring the growth of your aneurysm. Each scan holds the potential to reveal growth that can elevate anxieties.

The ‘Watch and Wait’ approach forms a central tenet in managing small aortic aneurysms. This strategy closely monitors your aneurysm’s growth without immediate surgical intervention. However, this dilemma may place you in a precarious position—between the stress of constant surveillance and the potential risks associated with the decision to postpone surgery. 

However, advancements in treatment bring promising possibilities. Less invasive procedures, like endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR), offer minimally disruptive solutions for suitable cases. Additionally, ongoing research explores new techniques and technologies, constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

Finding Support and Coping

Connecting with others who understand your journey can be transformative. Support groups provide a safe space to share your experiences, fears, and triumphs. Hearing from others facing similar challenges can offer validation, comfort, and valuable insights. 

Beyond support groups, professional help can equip you with tools to manage the emotional rollercoaster. Therapy or counseling can help you develop coping mechanisms for anxiety and address the fear of the unknown. These interventions can provide coping mechanisms, resilience-building strategies, and a roadmap to manage the emotional complexities inherent in facing a potentially life-threatening condition.

But healing isn’t solely about external support. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, empower you to find mindfulness. These practices alleviate stress and contribute to your enhanced overall sense of well-being.

While you may not be able to control the aneurysm itself, you can focus on what you can control—your lifestyle choices. Maintaining a healthy weight, adopting a heart-healthy diet, and engaging in regular, moderate exercise can empower you and potentially slow aneurysm growth. Taking charge of your health choices fosters a sense of agency and allows you to participate in your well-being actively.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs and symptoms of an aortic aneurysm?

Aortic aneurysms often develop silently without noticeable symptoms. However, in some cases, individuals may experience back or abdominal pain, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or symptoms related to specific areas affected by the aneurysm. It’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly if such symptoms arise.

How often should I be screened if I have a family history?

If you have a family history of aortic aneurysms, screening can detect potential issues early. The frequency of screenings depends on individual risk factors and medical history. Generally, individuals with a family history may start screenings in their 40s or earlier, as advised by their healthcare provider.

Can an aortic aneurysm be prevented?

While you cannot always prevent aortic aneurysms, certain lifestyle modifications can reduce the risk. Controlling blood pressure, avoiding tobacco use, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet contribute to cardiovascular health, potentially reducing the risk of aneurysm development.

How will this affect my life expectancy?

Life expectancy with an aortic aneurysm depends on various factors, including size, location, and individual health. Small aneurysms may have a lower risk of rupture, while larger ones pose a more significant threat. Timely detection, monitoring, and appropriate medical intervention can positively influence outcomes.

What medications might I need to take?

Medications for managing aortic aneurysms focus on controlling blood pressure to reduce stress on the weakened arterial walls. Doctors may prescribe beta-blockers and other antihypertensive medications to maintain optimal blood pressure levels.

Diagnosed with aneurysm? Several organizations can provide support, resources, and information to help you cope:

American Heart Association (AHA)


1-800-AHA-USA-1 or 1-800-242-8721

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)


The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation (TAAF)


(510) 464-4540

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About the Author

Rich Devman

Rich Devman

In the year 2020, I encountered one of the most significant challenges of my life when I was diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm. This condition, considered one of the most severe and dangerous forms of cardiovascular disease, required immediate surgical intervention. The ascending aorta, which is the segment of the aorta that rises from the heart and delivers oxygen-rich blood to the body, had developed an abnormal bulge in its wall, known as an aneurysm. Left untreated, such an aneurysm could lead to life-threatening conditions such as aortic dissection or even aortic rupture. In response to this urgent health crisis, I underwent emergency surgery, a procedure aimed to repair the dilated section of my aorta, thereby preventing a potential disaster. This type of surgery often involves a procedure known as an open chest aneurysm repair, where the weakened part of the aorta is replaced with a synthetic tube, a demanding operation that calls for extensive expertise and precision from the surgical team. Surviving such a major health scare deeply impacted my life, leading me to channel my experience into something constructive and helpful for others going through the same situation. As a result, I took it upon myself to establish this website and a corresponding Facebook group. These platforms are designed to provide support, encouragement, and a sense of community for those grappling with the reality of an ascending aortic aneurysm. I often refer to those of us who have had our aneurysms discovered and treated before a catastrophic event as "the lucky ones." The unfortunate reality is that aortic aneurysms are often termed "silent killers" due to their propensity to remain asymptomatic until they rupture or dissect, at which point it's often too late for intervention. Thus, we, who were diagnosed and treated timely, represent the fortunate minority, having had our aneurysms detected before the worst could happen. Through this website and our Facebook group, I aim to raise awareness, provide critical information about the condition, share personal experiences, and, above all, offer a comforting hand to those who are facing this daunting journey. Together, we can turn our brushes with mortality into a beacon of hope for others. Also, I make websites look pretty and rank them on search engines, raise a super amazing kid, and I have a beautiful wife.