(WHTM) — The shocking and sudden death of one of America’s premier soccer journalists is shining a light on the scary condition that took his life.
Grant Wahl collapsed in the press box while covering the Netherlands versus Argentina game in the 2022 World Cup. He suffered from an aortic aneurysm, which happens quickly and often with no warnings.
Nearly everyone who experiences an aortic aneurysm dies.
An emergency team worked on Wahl for nearly 30 minutes before taking him away on a stretcher. He was transported to a hospital in New York where he died from an aortic aneurysm.
A cardiac surgeon at Penn State Hershey Medical Center said aortic aneurysms are incredibly difficult to deal with and are in an extremely sensitive area of the body.
“The aorta is the largest blood vessel that comes out of your heart. An aneurysm means that instead of the aorta looking like a straight tube, it looks like a balloon,” said Dr. Abdul Elgnaar.
Days before Wahl collapsed, he claimed he had pressure and discomfort in his upper chest region. He assumed it was bronchitis, something doctors say is common with aortic aneurysms.
This is part of the reason why an aortic aneurysm can be so hard to catch before it’s too late.
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“But for the most part, they are discovered incidentally when looking for other problems. The goal here is to get to operating before we know about the bulge,” said Dr. Elgnaar.
Unfortunately, by the time doctors know what’s going on it is typically too late already.
Aortic aneurysms grow slowly, and in many instances, patients have no way of knowing it’s there until it ruptures.
Doctors say there are no reliable ways to screen for aortic aneurysms. When they are caught in advance, it is usually when doctors were looking for something else, such as lung cancer or heart disease.
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When caught early, aortic aneurysms can be treated with medication and/or surgery.