I have been an ICU nurse for 7yrs. Last fall I was diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm--currently on Diovan.The aneurysm was found when I developed pneumonia and a chest x-ray was done.When compared to the chest x-ray done for my annual physical in May,it showes dilation of the aorta.I was sent for C.T. scan. Well, I have transferred out of ICU and am working on a general rehab. floor.Now,I am expected to take my turn in floating back to ICU when staff is needed there.I'm wondering how much the work environment affects aneurysms.What do other people do?
I don't think the work environment affects an aneurysm unless your work is unduly stressful, and you are unhappy at work. Under those circumstances, your blood pressure will tend to go up, and all kinds of stress hormones will be coursing through your bloodstream. But the same thing could be said about being stressed and unhappy at home.
It mostly gets down to blood pressure control. If you love your job, and if you can keep your blood pressure under control at work, then I think there is no problem. But if you are unhappy and/or you can't control your blood pressure with the job you have, then I think you should make a change and find a position that is less stressful.
A lot of it gets down to your happiness, too. If I loved my job, I would probably stay, even if I knew I had an aortic aneurysm, and even if my blood pressure spiked up from time to time. But that's just me. I don't think it is ever healthy to be miserable. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
You asked what other people have done. I am adding this "PS" post so you will know that my comments above were based on personal experience.
When I found out about my aneurysm, it was already operable, so I did not have to make the choice of whether to go on working for a long period of time while the aneurysm was being monitored. But when I was told about the aneurysm, I did make the decision to go on medical leave immediately, rather than work another couple of weeks with the aneurysm and with a bad aortic valve.
I had known about the bad aortic valve for a couple of months, and I already knew I needed surgery for that. The aneurysm was something that I was told about at kind of the last minute. The reason I stopped coming in to work as soon as I found out about the aneurysm was because, at the time, I had an extremely stressful job, and I had hypertension that was averaging around 190/90 and was spiking higher than that. Aggravation on the job caused most of the spikes. One day my b.p. was measured by the onsite nurse at 240/120.
So when I found out about the aneurysm, I was afraid I might not live until the operation, if I did not get out of that workplace. The word aneurysm scares you. Actually, I still think that, under the circumstances, my fear was realistic. But if my job had not been unbearably stressful, I might have made a different decision, and if I had actually enjoyed the job I had at the time, I probably would have worked as long as possible, up until the scheduled date of surgery.
I just think that your happiness has a whole lot to do with how well your body holds up to things. I was not happy in that job, and my blood pressure was crazy. So as soon as I heard the word aneurysm, I wanted out. I don't regret it. But in a similar situation in the future, I also wouldn't hesitate to make a different decision, if I wanted to keep on working.
I had an Ascending Aortic Aneurysm, too and it was SEVEN years before it was considered big enough for surgical repair. I worked in the Radiology Department of a level two trauma center so, I worked under extreme stresses and pressures as well handling critical care situations that entered the Emergency Room and needed radiologic diagnostic procedures. Although having an aneurysm may seem like living with a "time bomb" in your chest region, it never caused me too much anxiety.
Simply go for your cat scan of your chest EVERY year for to ascertain if your aneurysm has changed in size with each passing year. You will also need to take a beta blocker, heart medication to maintain your blood pressure, especially if you have high blood pressure. I never had high blood pressure but, I took a very low dose of Toprol XL so the every day pressure of my blood didn't exert too much pressure on my aorta.
It was seven years when my Ascending Aortic Aneurysm reached 5.5 centimeters and a cardiac surgeon decided it was a good time to perform the surgery to repair the aneurysm...it is best to do surgery when you are otherwise in excellent health and less likely to suffer from any complications.
My life is back to "normal" and as a very active, physically fit individual, I can do everything that I did before surgery. I do not take any heart medication, either since I do not have high blood pressure and such medication slows me down and make me feel tired in my busy, active lifestyle.
Best of luck to you!
I'll add another comment: I would have kept on working right up until surgery, if my blood pressure had been under control -- happy or not, stressful job or not. But it was not controllable until after surgery. I had a severely regurgitant aortic valve, and that had to be replaced before my blood pressure could be controlled with medication. A lot of things have to be considered, in a situation like this. I don't think there is any one "right" answer for everyone. For people who are extremely anxious about the aneurysm and want it taken care of ASAP, maybe their surgeon should take that into account as a factor in the scheduling of surgery.
Cardiac surgeons do NOT perform high risk heart surgery on any patients until thoracic aneurysms reach a certain size...at the very least, an aneurysm must be 5.0 to 5.5 centimeters before a cardiac surgeon will operate. After all, you can die on the surgical table! This simply means that the risk of dying from an aneurysm rupture must outweigh the risk of dying on the surgical table.
For the present time, you can continue to work at your job while maintaining good checkups with your medical physicians and a cat scan once a year to evaluate the size of an aneurysm is a definite must...until cardiac surgery become a necessity. There truly is no reason for excess worry and concern.
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