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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Facts

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

abdominal-aortic-aneurysm-facts

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Statistics

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is very serious and will require surgery at some point in time. When the abdominal aorta develops a dilatation of its lumen over 3 cm or more than 50% larger than normal, it is a serious problem. There are often no symptoms of this disorder.

The mortality rates are decreasing in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, but that is not the case in the world overall. While the U.S., the U.K. have screening programs, Australia does not because Australian medicare prohibits reimbursement of any screening program.

In the United States 200,000 people are diagnosed with AAA annually, and there were 9,923 deaths in 2018.

Probable Contributing Factors

There are some contributing factors to the dilated abdominal aorta, including:

  • High blood pressure (chronic or untreated)
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Smoking (accounts for 75% of AAA)
  • Obesity
  • Men from 65- 75 years if smokers (women account for 25%)
  • First degree relative with AAA (makes you 12 times more likely)
  • Being caucasion
  • Presence of other large vessel aneurysms
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Injury from a trauma (auto accident)
  • Congenital abnormality (it would be present from birth)
  • Inherited condition (Marfan syndrome, Loeys-Dietz syndrome)
abdominal-aortic-aneurysm-facts

Diagnosis

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that any man, ages 65-75 years who has ever smoked should get screened for AAA and any man over 75 years should get screened.

A screening for AAA may be done with an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.

My husband was a smoker, but he quit over 30 years ago. However, we were visiting family and walking in their yard when he fell. We traveled home, but he was having a lot of pain in his lower leg, so we went to the ER.

He did have a fracture in his lower leg, but the ER doctor said he needed to get a CT scan of his abdomen. It turned out he had an AAA, so he had to see the surgeon. He was told if he did not have surgery he would probably not live more than 3 months. He had this difficult surgery and survived.

I have often thought how wonderful it was my husband had that CT scan. Why did he break his leg right at that time? He would have died if he had not broken his leg. He had no symptoms prior to the surgery.

Aortic Aneurysm Symptoms and Treatment at Ohio State

Treatment

If the aneurysm is small the physician may recommend watching it. If the aneurysm is large, then surgery is the only option. The factors the physician will consider are the size of the aneurysm, location of the aneurysm, other medical conditions and your age. The risk of rupture is also noted, as when the diameter is greater thean 5.0 cm than surgery is the only option. Atherosclerosis (hardened arteries) are another consideration.

During surgery the chest is opened to expose the aorta, and a heart-lung machine is connected to maintain the patient’s circulation. The diseased area of the aorta is removed, and a graft or fabric tube is sewn over the diseased portion. Staples are used to close the chest, and they are removed 1-2 weeks later.

If the patient is at too high risk to undergo surgery, a device called a “silent graft” is placed over that diseased area of the aorta. A catheter is used to apply this graft, which relieves the pressure.

There is new evidence that states the size of the aneurysm in addition to the patient’s height plays a role in the decision of a surgical date. While 5 cm is typically considered a time for surgery for a 6 foot person, a person who is 5 feet 6 inches surgery would be recommended for surgery if the aneurysm is 4.7 cm.

Aortic Aneurysm: What Is It And How Is It Treated?

Final Thoughts

An AAA is a serious condition that often needs immediate intervention. There is no treatment except surgery. You will be in the hospital for a few days. A successful recovery means:

  • No smoking
  • Avoid heavy lifting
  • Maintain good blood pressure control

The most important thing is to get good medical care if you have this condition. Ideally, your lifestyle helps prevent an AAA from ever happening. If you have an aneurysm that is not large enough to require surgery it is still important to get a CT or MRI scan every 6 months.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 09, 2021:

Hi Adrienne,

This disorder does not always hav symptoms, and I agree that it is scary.

You would think we would get signals but it doesn't always happen. My husband was fortunate.

I appreciate your comments, as always. I hope you have a good weekend.

Adrienne Farricelli on April 09, 2021:

This type of aneurism sounds like a silent killer, one of those conditions that strike with no warning. It is scary when things can go so wrong with little warning. One would imagine our bodies would give us some signals when something is not right.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 07, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

There no symptoms, so I don't think we would have known. I never thought having a broken leg would be a good thing. Haha!

Thnk you so much for your comments. Take care.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 06, 2021:

Pamela,

They say things always happen for a reason, so thank the lucky stars he fell.

You might not have ever known about the aneurysm.

It's great that you put all this information out there.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 06, 2021:

Hi Sp,

I agree that this can be a can be a scary disease. It primarily is a problem for men that smoke, which is still scary. Smoking is a problem in many diseases. My husband was fortunate to have survived

I appreciate your comments, as always. I hope you stay safe and healthy.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 06, 2021:

Hi Ann,

I'm glad you found this article interesting. It is frightening to be diagnosed with any medical problem that requires a major surgery.

Thank you for your comments, Ann. I am feeling more secure since I got my 2 vaccines. I hope you are keeping safe and healthy as well.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 06, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

I hope you do not have any serious medical problem. You will know more when you get the results of you scan and labs. I pray you will have good news.

I am glad the article was informative. Thank you for reading and commenting, Manatita.

God bless you.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 06, 2021:

It's scary to thing something like an AAA could be inside you body and you could miss it until you go in with another issue.

This is something I've never heard of before either and many times smoking causes issues you've never heard of. Your husband was lucky that they did CT.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 06, 2021:

Interesting facts and advice. It's important to be aware of these things and that sounds frightening.

I hope you're keeping safe and well, Pamela.

Ann

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 06, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

It does seem like smoking contributes to many diseases and certainly to this one. I am so glad I never smoked, and I am glad to hear you don't either.

This is a serious condition. I appreciate your comments and your support. Have a geat week.

manatita44 from london on April 06, 2021:

Lovely article. I'm now having some abdominal problems query cause. Feel like I've got a tiny ball or some sort of growth in there. Sore. Awaiting a scan plus blood work. Explained well by the surgeons.

Rosina S Khan on April 06, 2021:

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm looks like a really serious condition. Thanks for bringing it into our awareness. It seems smoking is the main contributor to it along with the others. I am happy I have never smoked. Girls here do not. Thanks for sharing another important health issue.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 06, 2021:

Hi Doris,

Doctors typically just watch smaller aneurysms, but your husband's experiences with the staph infection is awful. I would never have been so afraid of a doctor to not report the symptoms of an infection. My husband still says tht surgery changed his health for the worst, despite the fact he had a stroke.

Thank you for sharing your experience, Doris. I appreciate your comments. Stay safe and healthy.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 05, 2021:

This is a good warning for people, Pamela. My husband had this surgery in 2006, and it left this strong man practically debilitated. He is about 6 ft tall and his aneurism was right at 5 cm. He's a life-long smoker at least since he was a young teen. He tried to blame it on heavy lifting he'd done at a house we were remodeling, and I kept hearing "Your house is killing me!" But the doctors set him straight about the smoking.

He breezed through the surgery -- great doctors at our university medical center, but he got a staph infection in the wound. We kept reporting it to the nurses, but they were afraid of the doctors and ignored it. Finally after he bled all over the bed, he got a response, but the damage was done. He then had to have home nursing care after he was able to come home. But that's the VA for you, and they had to foot the bill.

I don't remember why he had the scan or MRI, but it was for something else, and it picked up two aneurisms, this one and a smaller one that he still has.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Ms Dora,

I think my husband's fall was a blessing also. Some of these diseases with no symptoms are frightening, but we try to live healthy and trust God.

I appreciate your comments and support. Have a wonderful week, Dora.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 05, 2021:

These serious illnesses that have no symptoms can be frightening. Thanks for bring them to our attention, with very helpful suggestions. I think that your husband's fall was a major blessing in disguise. Thanks also for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

I think the percentage of aneurysms with pregnancy is fairly low, and they are in the brain. It is always good to know all the risks for any situation.

Thank you so much for your comments. Have a great week. Blessings.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Linda,

I think the percentage of men that smoked 40 years ago is very high. It is a shame that your father was not diagnosed earlier. He sure fit the criteria though for being at a higher risk.

Thank you so much for your comments. Have a wonderful week, Linda.

Misbah from The Planet Earth on April 05, 2021:

Pamela, this is Very informative and helpful article. I have heard that Sometimes aneurysms may be caused by pregnancy as well. Thanks for sharing the information

Blessings to you

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Fran,

You know first hand about the dangers of an AAA. My husband also feels that he lost so much due to that surgery, but I am happy he survived.

Thank you so much for your comments. Have a wonderful week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Peggy,

I do think my husband's situation is not the norm and we are so blessed that he broke his leg, which doesn't sound like a normal response.

I agree about smoking as it seems to be linked to so many illnesses.

I appreciate your comments. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Devika,

I am glad you found this article informative, as an AAA is very serious and it is good to know about the symptoms and possible causes.

Thank you for your comments. I hope you have a great week.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 05, 2021:

Pamela, thank you so very much for researching and writing this article. It was too late for my dad (40 years ago) but hopefully your warning will help others. My dad was Caucasian, overweight, 75 years old, and a 2 pack a day smoker.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on April 05, 2021:

Pamela, great article. I know firsthand the effects of AAA. My husband had an emergency for this when they found more than one ready to 'blow'. He had surgery, intensive care, and thank God recovered but he was never the same. It is a wonder how our bodies suffer and recover. Keep up these great health articles.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2021:

As you mentioned, a burst AAA outside of a hospital setting is always deadly. It is a miracle that your husband was diagnosed in time due to a happenstance injury of his leg.

Those people who smoke have so many reasons to give it up. This is another one!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

I think my husband may have experienced a miracle in a way. This aneurysm is so dangerous. I took care of some patients in the ICU as a nurse, and if they were in the hospital and the aneurysm burst they had some chance. If they were not in the hospital there is no way they could get there in time to save their life.

One of my goals in writing these medical articles is to spread awareness. I appreciate your comments and your support. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 05, 2021:

This is a very useful information about Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. I wasn’t aware of this serious health issue. Thank you for spreading the awareness.

It’s important to undergo periodical health check ups, so that such health issues are detected timely.

Thank God that your husband got the treatment in time.

Many thanks for sharing another important health related article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

I agree that it is good to be informed. If my husband had not broken his leg I think it is good to assume he would not be here.

I appreciate your comments. Have a wonderful week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Bill,

You are so right. Be grateful for your good health as many simply don't have it at 72. Enjoy life!

I appreciate your comments, my friend. Have a good week!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2021:

Hi Miebakagh,

I am glad to hear your take care of yourself and that you don't smoke. Lifting as a fitness enthusiast is not really a problem and probably very good for you. Exercise, including lifting weights does not increase your risk for an AAA.

Thank you so much for your generous comments. I hope you have a good week.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 05, 2021:

Pamela this is complete and important information. You share what is valuable to us. Facts with great meaning and tells us everything we need to know about Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. It is sudden and without knowing it one is fatally ill.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 05, 2021:

How fortunate for your husband that he broke his leg rather than suffering a much more severe trauma! I knew nothing about this so thank you for the medical information. It will help me take care of those I love better.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 05, 2021:

As I was reading this, I was thinking "My God, there are so many things that can go wrong with the human body." It's amazing any of us live into adulthood! Makes me grateful, you know, for good life at 72.

Anyway, thank you for the information, my friend. I hope this finds you healthy and happy!

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 05, 2021:

Pamela, this is a serious health article worth every read. It is a most for every young man and adults to read in other to avoid the bad habit of smoking. It did not depicked you a man that you smoke. As for the ladies stop smoking likewise. Thank goodness I take good care of myself by avoiding all the routes the disease spread. But one thing I can't help is heavy liftting. It could be two or thrice in the year. More so, as a regular fitness enthusiast, I don't deem it risky. Advice? Much thanks.

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