What is a Ventricular Aneurysm?
An aneurysm occurs when an artery wall is weakened and an artery expands excessively. More specifically, a ventricular aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge that occurs as a result of an area of weakened tissue in the heart wall. In most cases, ventricular aneurysms form as a result of damage from a previous heart attack, though they may also be caused by defects present from birth.
Ventricular aneurysms are most common in the left ventricle, and as often called left ventricular aneurysm. The main concern for a patient with a left ventricular aneurysm is the possible reduction of the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body, causing heart failure and death.
Baptist Health is known for advanced, superior care for patients with heart disease and the diagnosis, management
Ventricular Aneurysm Symptoms
Many smaller ventricular aneurysms exhibit no symptoms. Rapid heartbeat and chest pain or angina are the most commonly occurring symptom for ventricular aneurysms that do present symptoms. Other symptoms that occur when a patient begins to experience heart failure as a result of ventricular angina can include:
- Shortness of breath during exercise or when lying flat
- Fatigue and weakness
- Fluid retention causing swelling in the ankles, legs, feet and/or abdomen
- Heart palpitations
Diagnosing a Ventricular Aneurysm
Early diagnosis is critical to
Angiogram: A thin tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel and dye is injected to make the blood vessel visible during an X-ray. This can show any blood clots or other blood vessel issues.
Chest X-ray: A common imaging test of the lungs, heart
CT scan: X-rays and computers are used to create images of the aorta, heart and blood vessels. This provides a more detailed picture than an ultrasound.
Echocardiogram: This ultrasound exam uses soundwaves to take moving pictures of the heart’s chambers and valves.
Electrocardiogram (EKG): This test measures the electrical activity of the heart and can help determine if parts of the heart are enlarged, overworked or damaged. The heart’s electrical currents are detected by 12 to 15 electrodes that are attached to the arms, legs
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):A large magnet, radio waves
Ventricular Aneurysm Causes
Ventricular aneurysms are usually caused by a weakening of the ventricular wall resulting from damage from a heart attack. In rare cases, a person can be born with a genetic disorder that can lead to ventricular aneurysms.
Risk factors that could contribute to a ventricular aneurysm include:
Age: Most ventricular aneurysms occur in people over age 65.
Gender: Men develop ventricular aneurysms more often than women.
Family history: People with a family history of heart attacks or heart disease are at higher risk for ventricular aneurysms.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is typically the result of a genetic condition that causes the cells of the heart muscle to enlarge and the ventricle walls to thicken, and increases the risk for ventricular aneurysms.
While some risk factors like age and heredity cannot be controlled, there are ways you can help prevent ventricular aneurysms:
Eat heart-healthy foods: Limit your salt, sugar and unhealthy fat intake.
Exercise: 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days per week can help prevent heart attacks.
Limit alcohol use: Talk with your physician about the amount and types of alcohol you can consume.
Take your medications as prescribed: If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, anxiety or depression, be certain to take your prescribed medications as directed.
Get regular screenings if you are at risk: If you are at high risk of a ventricular aneurysm from an inherited condition or previous heart attack, your doctor may recommend regular screenings to see if an aneurysm is forming.
Ventricular Aneurysm Prognosis
Ventricular aneurysms usually develop slowly over time and are not prone to ruptures, so they can be effectively treated in many cases with monitoring, medication and lifestyle changes. Larger aneurysms that constrict blood flow out of the heart can lead to congestive heart failure and may require surgery.
Treatment and Recovery
Ventricular aneurysm treatment depends on the aneurysm’s size, location
If the aneurysm is small and not significantly constricting blood flow, then your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes. Limiting physical activity, avoiding stress and overexertion and maintaining a
If you are diagnosed with a ventricular aneurysm, your doctor may prescribe an
- Statins: Statins are a class of drug that
helplower cholesterol levels.
- Vasodilators: Vasodilators are drugs that dilate your blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure and making it easier for blood to flow.
Ventricular Reconstructive Surgery
For larger aneurysms causing serious pain and other symptoms of heart failure, your cardiologist may recommend ventricular reconstructive
Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs
If you have had a heart attack or are diagnosed with a ventricular aneurysm, your doctor will likely recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program. These programs provide an exercise regimen specifically designed to help you slowly strengthen your heart, and offer guidance on other diet and lifestyle changes that will help reduce your risk of another heart attack, heart failure
If a ventricular aneurysm is not diagnosed and treated, the aneurysm could lead to serious health problems. Those problems can include:
Embolisms: Ventricular aneurysms can cause the formation of blood clots, which sometimes detach and eventually get stuck in smaller blood vessels, often in the arms or legs. Embolisms can cause a variety of symptoms including pain, coldness, numbness,
Ventricular Enlargement and Heart Failure: Over time, a ventricular aneurysm can weaken the heart muscle, causing ventricular enlargement and heart failure.
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