Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) is the inflammation or swelling of the aorta which is the largest artery of the body. Large aneurysms are rare, but are fatal if they burst.
Symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
In most of the cases, small abdominal aortic aneurysms shows no symptoms. However, larger AAA may cause pain or a pulsating feeling in the abdomen & persistent back pain.
Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm may cause:
- Sweaty skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
Causes & risk factors of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
- Age: Increasing age is a risk factor for abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- Gender: AAAs are most common in men aged over 65.
- Smoking: Tobacco contains substances that damages the aortic wall.
- Atherosclerosis: In atherosclerosis, there is narrowing of the arteries due to the accumulation of plaque. These plaques causes the widening of aorta so that the blood keeps on flowing leading to weakening or aorta.
- High blood pressure: It increases the pressure on aortic walls.
- Family history: Having family history of AAA may increase the risk of developing it.
Diagnosis of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
- Routine physical examination: The doctor checks for a distinctive pulsating sensation in the abdomen.
- Ultrasound: It helps to monitor the size of the abdominal aorta.
Treatment options for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm:
Treatment of Large AAA
The surgical options for the treatment of large AAA are:
- Endovascular surgery- A small incision is made in the groin through which a graft made of metal mesh is inserted & advanced to the swollen aorta. This graft is sealed to the aortic wall at both ends which reduces the risk of bursting.
- Open surgery- In this procedure, an incision is made into the stomach & replaces the enlarged abdominal aorta with a graft made up of a synthetic material.
Treatment of small or medium AAA
For a small (3.0-4.4cm) or medium (4.5-5.4cm) aneurysm, surgery may not be recommended as it may not benefit the patient. The patient is called for regular check-ups (every year in case of a small aneurysm and every three months in case of a medium aneurysm) & scans to monitor the size of aneurysm.
The patient is advised to prevent the aneurysm from getting bigger, which is done by:
- Stopping smoking
- Eating a balanced diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Regular exercise