Heart Aneurysms and Their Impact on Heart Health

You’ve probably heard of aneurysms before—it’s a weakness in the wall of an artery that allows it to balloon out, which thins the wall and makes it susceptible to rupture. But aneurysms are also possible in the heart, particularly following a heart attack that weakens the heart tissue.

The ventricular aneurysm

A heart aneurysm is almost always in the left ventricle, and is usually called a left ventricular aneurysm. The left ventricle is the largest chamber of the heart and the one that’s most likely to incur the kind of damage that allows an aneurysm to form.

In almost all cases, a ventricular aneurysm is formed through damage from a heart attack or other cardiac event. When part of the heart tissue dies in a heart attack, it becomes weakened, and the ventricle can slowly start to balloon out in the weak spot under the constant strain of pumping your blood.

Small ventricular aneurysms often show no outward symptoms, and they tend to grow slowly. As an aneurysm grows larger, though, it may be visible as a bulge on a chest x-ray and may cause chest pain or a rapid heartbeat. Aneurysms can show up in other heart tests as well, including electrocardiograms and echocardiograms. If your doctor thinks you’re at risk for a heart aneurysm, they may order specific tests to monitor your heart. 

Complications from a ventricular aneurysm

A ventricular aneurysm doesn’t have the same risk of rupture that other types of aneurysms do, but it’s a problem in other ways. A larger aneurysm can constrict blood flow and cause congestive heart failure, so large aneurysms may require surgery. The scarring from an aneurysm can also result in an arrhythmia. Overall, having a heart aneurysm puts the patient at a higher risk of cardiac events and conditions in the future.

One other risk that this kind of aneurysm can carry is the formation of clots that can break off and travel through the bloodstream. These clots can block blood flow to the limbs (called ischemia) or cause a stroke.

Treatment options

Some ventricular aneurysms can be treated with lifestyle changes, medication to thin the blood and other minimally invasive treatment options. In the case of large and advanced aneurysms, though, there may be a need for surgical intervention.

Ventricular aneurysms are a little different than their vascular cousins, but still an important health problem to be aware of. Schedule a checkup with Oklahoma Heart Hospital today to stay on top of your heart health.