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08 Jul 2005

warning signs of aortic aneurism
I have heard of two people who died due to undiagnosed aortic aneurism. One of them had been told by his doctor he had indigestion. Could occasional numbness in the arms be a sign?
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Expert
HeartDoc

01 Jan 0001


Dear Mee,

An aortic aneurysm is easily missed if the doctor doesn’t think of it as a possible diagnosis. Symptoms suggesting a heart attack, in the presence of a normal-looking ECG should ring loud alarm bells, especially if the person is hypertensive. Unfortunately, there is a lot of overlap between the symptoms of “indigestion” and those of heart problems. Consider the term “Heartburn” – its this very type of pain which can be diagnostically confusing.

Numbness in the arms could be of cardiac origin, but also of orthopaedic, or neuro-muscular origin. Obviously, the more important one to exclude is the cardiac one, but once that is done, a good neurologist will quickly be able to make a diagnosis.

If you are in doubt about an aortic aneurysm, a Trans-Oesophageal Echocardiogram, and a good CT or MRI scan will give a definite undisputable diagnosis. This will need to be arranged via a cardiologist.

HeartDoc

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