Aortic Aneurysms May be Genetic

[Submitted by Roberta Simon from Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2000]

Dear Abby:  Please reprint the article about abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) that appeared in May 1997.  It saved my life.  My internist had told me I didn't have AAA.  However, after reading your column, I insisted on having a sonogram.  Much to my doctor's surprise, there it was.  Surgery was performed May 2 of last year.  I am fine, thanks to you.      Joan Fella, Huntingdon Valley, PA

Dear Joan:  I'm pleased to reprint it.  After that column appeared, I received several letters similar to yours.  Read on:

Dear Abby:  Two years ago, my husband's sister had a sonogram to check for a possible gynecological problem.  What the doctor discovered was an abdominal aortic aneurysm that was large enough for mandatory surgery.

Her doctor told her to notify any siblings that they, too, should have a sonogram.  The unexpected result of my husband's examination stunned us all.  Bill also had an abdominal aortic aneurysm!

Bill was monitored for one year, until the aneurysm surged significantly.  The operation followed one month later.  The doctor'' insight about the genetic factor probably saved Bill's life.

Please, Abby, inform your readers that aortic aneurysms are hereditary.  If a parent or sibling has had one, then all siblings and offspring should be examined.  We have been advised that our son must be tested when he reaches age 50, and should continue to have a sonogram every five years thereafter.

The cause of aneurysms is unknown, although several risk factors (notably hypertension, smoking, and atherosclerosis) could possibly contribute to their development and growth.  They have been found to occur more frequently in men than in women.  Abdominal aortic aneurysms are silent and usually deadly if not discovered before they rupture.  Ruptures are preventable with continued use of ultrasonography and CT scanning.

I hope my letter will be a red alert to anyone whose family has a history of aneurysms.  Check with your doctor.  Don't put it off!  And physicians who are unaware of this should consider including "family history of aneurysms" on their new patient forms.  It could save lives.  Barbara and Bill Goldsmith, Savannah, GA

Aortic Aneurysms in the Resnik Family

[E-mail from Myrna Helfand, March 10, 2000]

Resnik History:  Rose Kite, Arnold Resnik, and Diane Martov all died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.  David Resnik (Myrna's father) may have also died of an aneurysm, although his death in 1972 was listed as a heart attack.

Success Stories:  Marv Helfand's mother (not a Resnik) also had an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which was discovered during an angiogram to check her carotid artery.  Because it was discovered in time, she was successfully operated on at age 85.  Mryna Helfand's uncle on her mother's side (also not a Resnik) was successfully operated on for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) at age 75.

Easy Test:  Abdominal aortic aneurysms are inherited.  There is an easy, inexpensive test (ultrasound) to discover if a person has an abdominal aortic aneurysm.  All Resnik family members should have this test since at least three (and possibly four) of Fagel's seven children died from it.


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