Grant Wahl’s Death at World Cup Caused by Ruptured Aortic Aneurysm

Grant Wahl, the American sports journalist who died during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm, his wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, said.

“It’s just one of these things that had been likely brewing for years, and for whatever reason, it happened at this point in time,” Dr. Gounder said on “CBS Mornings” on Wednesday.

Wahl, a longtime sports journalist who collapsed covering the match between Argentina and the Netherlands, was 49.

What is an aortic aneurysm?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an aortic aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in the aorta. Being the largest artery in the body, it carries blood from the heart through the chest and torso.

Aortic aneurysms can dissect or rupture, resulting in death. In case of dissection, the force of blood pumping splits the layers of the artery wall, allowing blood to leak in between them.

When a rupture occurs, the aneurysm bursts completely, causing bleeding inside the body.

What causes an aortic aneurysm?

The causes of an aortic aneurysm are often unknown but may include inflammation or narrowing in the arteries, injury to an aorta, infections, such as syphilis, or inherited conditions that affect connective tissue.

Risk factors for an aortic aneurysm are being male, age over 65 years, having a family history of aortic aneurysms, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and smoking.

What are the symptoms?

Most people with an aneurysm won’t be aware they have one as often there are no noticeable symptoms, according to the British Heart Foundation. However, an enlarged aneurysm may cause:

  • a pulsating feeling in your stomach
  • pain in your stomach
  • persistent back pain

The signs of a ruptured aortic aneurysm include:

  • sudden severe pain in the abdomen, back, or lower back area
  • feeling cold, clammy, sweaty, faint, and breathless
  • fainting or passing out

What is the treatment?

The condition may be treated with medicines that lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of an aortic aneurysm. In addition, surgery that repairs or replaces the affected section of the aorta can be done.


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