July 4, 2022

Cleveland Clinic doctor speaks at Cayman Islands heart symposium

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Ahmad Zeeshan, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Florida, was in Grand Cayman last week at the Cayman Heart Fund’s annual International Symposium, where he spoke about current management and treatment options for thoracic aortic aneurysms.

The thoracic aorta is the section of the aorta that runs through the chest. An aneurysm occurs when an artery wall weakens, causing the wall to abnormally expand as blood is pumped through it. If the bulge is uniform in shape, it is referred to as a fusiform aneurysm, if it is a smaller and lopsided blister on one side of the aorta, it is referred to as a saccular aneurysm.

These aneurysms affect approximately 15,000 people in the United States each year, and can cause life-threatening internal bleeding depending on its size and location.

At the symposium, Dr Zeeshan was able to discuss all the signs and symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm, as well as the risk factors that can increase your chances of developing one. “Risk factors include smoking, hypertension, or having a family history of cardiovascular or other vascular diseases, as well as having other pre-existing diseases,” he said. “Rarely, they can also be caused due to trauma.”

Early detection is extremely important in increasing the chances for a positive outcome from treatment. Symptoms to look out for include pain in the jaw, neck, upper back or chest and coughing, hoarseness or difficulty breathing. Dr. Zeeshan also stated that “Men are affected twice as much compared to women, with a mean age for diagnosis at 60-65 years.”

The main focus of Dr Zeeshan’s presentation was on the current best options for managing and treating thoracic aortic aneurysm – such as TEVAR, short for Thoracic EndoVascular Aortic Repair, a procedure which has decreased the mortality rate, pain level and length of hospital stay for patients, and according to Dr. Zeeshan is a “safe alternative to open surgical repair for patients with conducive anatomy.”

Once diagnosed, treatment options depend on size, location and the patient’s overall health. If the aneurysm is small and not very symptomatic, it is monitored with scans every 6-12 months and the patient is prescribed any necessary medication. If the aneurysm is more serious, a surgical option may be required, which involves removing the aneurysm and replacing with a graft. An endovascular aneurysm repair is surgery that is performed inside the aorta as opposed to an open repair.

Dr Zeeshan said he was delighted to be given the opportunity to discuss such an important topic with Cayman’s community. As heart disease is so prevalent both in America and in Cayman, it is “always crucial to ensure we all stay on top of the latest news and treatments, both as medical professionals and as members of the general public.”

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm, contact your physician as soon as possible. For more on Cleveland Clinic Florida’s Heart and Vascular institute, visit clevelandclinicflorida.org

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IMAGE: Ahmad Zeeshan, MD – YELP

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