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An estimated 1.2 million Americans have aortic aneurysms, a bulge in the body’s main artery. They kill approximately 15,000 every year when they burst and people bleed internally.

Many don't even make it to the hospital, and those that do, still often die -- this is what recently killed U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrook.

That's why it's important to get screened if you have risk factors – being over 60 and a white male with a family history of heart trouble are the most common sufferers. And that's why it's important to have them repaired if necessary.

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Major surgery has long been the fix for such problems, but less invasive stents have been growing in use over the last decade. And doctors at Anne Arundel Medical Center have just started using a next-generation device that can conform to more patients' anatomies.

The hospital says it could make stents the standard of care of abdominal aortic aneurysms, when the bulge is in the belly verses the chest.

The stent was developed by Medtronic and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December. A stent is a flexible wire fame sewn into a specially woven fabric tube. It's treaded through blood vessels from the groin. The graft is expanded at the site of the aneurysm.

The center says that stents cut hospital stays (of at least five days) and recovery time (of months).

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