Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Causes, Treatment Options, and Prevention Tips



An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when the aorta (the largest blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the head, arms, legs, abdomen, and pelvis) becomes weak and swells or bulges out like a tiny balloon. A ruptured aneurysm can be life-threatening, so your doctor will monitor you closely if you are diagnosed with an AAA.

Types of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

 AAA is classified into two types depending on its size and how quickly it grows, including:

  • Small or Slow-Growing AAA – It is less than 5.5 centimeters and has less risk of rupture. It does not require immediate treatment, but monitoring the condition is necessary. 
  • Large or Fast-Growing AAA – It is greater than 5.5 centimeters and highly susceptible to rupture. It should be treated if it causes severe complications like internal bleeding. 

Causes of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Though the exact cause is unclear, some factors can increase your risk for developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm, including:

  • High blood pressure 
  • Smoking 
  • Vascular inflammation (Vasculitis)
  • Obesity 

Other than the above factors, the following are the risk factors that can increase your vulnerability to AAA:

  • Age (above 60 years) 
  • A family history of heart diseases 
  • Atherosclerosis (high cholesterol in the blood vessels)
  • Trauma or damage to the abdomen
  • A sedentary lifestyle  

Symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An abdominal aortic aneurysm does not cause any symptoms unless it ruptures. Symptoms of ruptured AAA are:

  • Sudden abdominal or back pain 
  • Back or abdominal pain that spreads to your legs, buttocks, or pelvis 
  • Unconsciousness or shock
  • Sweaty or clammy skin
  • Increased heartbeat 

How Is Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Done?

Your doctor may check the blood flow in your legs or perform these tests to diagnose AAA:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan 
  • Chest X-ray
  • Abdominal ultrasound 

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Treatment 

Depending on the size and exact location of your AAA, your doctor will recommend the following treatment options:

Surgery 

It is recommended for those with large AAAs. Your doctor will perform either:

  • Open Abdominal Surgery 

Your doctor may recommend open surgery if your AAA is very large or ruptured. It is an invasive procedure requiring an extended recovery time which is used to remove damaged sections of your aorta. Your doctor will make an incision on your abdomen to remove damaged tissues of the aorta.

  •  Endovascular Surgery 

It is a less invasive procedure that takes only two weeks to recover. It uses a graft to stabilize the damaged aorta walls. 
The success rate of surgery is usually high for aortic aneurysms that are diagnosed before rupturing. 

Regular Examination 

Generally, small AAA grows slowly, so your doctor might recommend monitoring it with regular abdominal ultrasounds to check on its progress. 

How to Prevent Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Follow these tips to prevent AAA:

  • Quit smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Eat a balanced, heart-healthy diet
  • Take concrete steps to control your cholesterol and blood pressure levels
  • Workout regularly to ensure you have a healthy weight 
  • Visit your healthcare provider for AAA screening if you are above 60 years 

Contact North Atlanta Vascular Clinic and Vein Center today if you are looking for abdominal aortic aneurysm diagnosis and treatment or have any questions concerning the condition. Our team specializes in managing abdominal aortic aneurysms and provides the care needed to avert any major complications.
 


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North Atlanta Vascular Clinic and Vein Center

North Atlanta Vascular Clinic is a vascular surgery center located in Johns Creek, Cumming, Roswell, and Lawrenceville, Georgia. We stand out in professionalism and kindness. Our expert doctors and health care providers are known for their clinical excellence, experience, and can help you with the care you need. Our vein disease specialists offer a comprehensive examination that includes a physical examination, review of your symptoms, and discussion of your medical history. We use advanced venography techniques and provide effective treatment for several health conditions like DVT, Spider Veins, Leg Cramps, MTS, and more. Visit our website, connect with us on social media, or contact us to get accurate diagnosis and treatment for all your vascular diseases.

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