'Stomach pain could signal life-threatening condition'

Kolkata, Sep 6 (IANS): Do not ignore stomach pain as it could indicate a critical ailment that often leads to death but goes unnoticed in 70 percent of cases, a senior cardiologist cautioned Thursday.

"Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is largely asymptomatic. But abdominal pain and back pain in people who are above 60 years of age, with a history of hypertension, should not be taken lightly. It could be a sign for AAA," said S.B.Roy, director and head of the department of interventional cardiology of the Belle Vue Clinic here.

The aneurysm occurs when the region of the aorta (the largest artery in the human body) that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs becomes abnormally large or balloons outwards.

Such a condition becomes fatal when the expanded blood vessel ruptures, causing a large quantity of blood to spill out in the abdominal cavity.

Although AAA has a very low incidence rate in India (500 to 700 cases reported every year), factors like hypertension and age itself predispose one to the ailment.

"Aneurysm kills people mostly in the age group of 65 to 75 years especially smokers. So age itself is one of the factors," Roy said.

Roy had detected the aneurysm in a 71-year-old patient who underwent a revolutionary surgery at the private hospital, with a new technique called endovascular aneurysm repair or EVAR.

To prevent fatalities, Roy advised routine abdominal ultrasounds in senior citizens.


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