My father recently died of an apparent abdominal aortic aneurism. He was a 78 year old white male, 5'11", between 180 and 200 pounds. He recently stopped smoking following diagnosis of a smoking-related cancer (having smoked all his adult life), which had responded to radiation therapy. He did not suffer from high cholesterol and had low blood presure, and was being treated for joint pain in the shoulders with cortisone. Previous medical history includes surgery to remove kidney stones in 1961, a myocardial infarction in 1973, and complaints regarding occasional partial paralysis on one side of the body in the 1960's and 1970's. Neurological studies at the time revealed no known cause and the condition did not seriously affect his day to day life. He consumed alcohol in moderation until about ten years ago, and did not consume illicit drugs.
Now, I am not certain that he suffered from a ruptured AAA, as details from my mother are sketchy, but he did suffer from an aneurism, and the doctor reported that abdominal fat made early accidental dignosis unlikely. My mother is still too distraught to be pressed for specifics regarding his demise. My report is based on information she volunteered.
On the day of his death, he complained of "feeling faint". My mother had returned from shopping to find him, weeping from pain, in the bath-tub, with his underware and socks still on (No, he was not in the habit of bathing this way. I presume that perhaps, he felt a fainting spell and sought to lay down in the tub, which was still devoid of water.) He would often take hot baths to relieve the pain in his shoulders. He was conscious, but unable to get up. Paramedics arrived within 5 minutes and (according to my mother) found him almost in shock. He was in shock by the time he reached the hospital, and died there.
According to my mother, the doctor(s) reported that even if he were brought there sooner, there was nothing that could have been done, and that intervention might have been possible four years earlier. I find this odd, given that he was in relatively stable health. Perhaps they said this since she blamed herself for not getting home "soon enough".
I wonder if either the radiation therapy or the cortisone might be contraindicated in the presence of an AAA, and if it would be routine practice to scan for an AAA prior to such treatment in a 78 year old white male (No, I am not seeking to sue for malpractice -- my father lived in Quebec, Canada, and such suits are fruitless since the government health care is, by definition, "the best possible").
Also, since I have high cholesterol (treated with diet and Zocor), and am 38 years old, should I consider being checked for an AAA?
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