Vascular emergencies

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is when the large blood vessel that supplies blood to abdomen, pelvis and legs becomes abnormally large or balloons outward. Aneurysms larger than 2 inches are at higher risk of rupture. A ruptured aneurysm is a life-threatening medical emergency which likely requires surgery to correct.

If treatment is necessary, the AAA Program can offer both traditional surgery and minimally invasive (endovascular) surgery to repair aortic aneurysms. The treatment chosen will depend on the size and the location of the aneurysm and the patient's overall health condition.

The Allina Health Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital has developed standardized guidelines and systems to care for all cardiovascular emergencies. These streamlined processes have been applied to treating AAA and are helping hospitals throughout the region provide better care for patients with a ruptured AAA. As a result, the average time required to diagnose and treat patients with a ruptured AAA has been significantly reduced.

Faster treatment for AAA is associated with a higher survival rate.

Acute Aortic Dissection

An acute aortic dissection occurs when there is a tear in the inner wall of the aorta, the main artery leaving the heart.

An aortic dissection is rare but life threatening and requires immediate treatment. Initially, it may be mistaken for a heart attack. Early and correct diagnose is very important because the treatment for an aortic dissection is different than it would be for a heart attack.

The streamlined processes Allina Health Minneapolis Heart Institute uses to treat all cardiovascular emergencies help hospitals throughout the region provide better care for patients with aortic dissection. As a result, it has reduced the time it takes to diagnose and begin treating aortic dissection. This approach is saving lives - the mortality rate among aortic dissection patients treated by the Allina Health Minneapolis Heart Institute has decreased by 50 percent since the standardized guidelines were implemented in 2005.