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All You Need To Know About Abdominal aortic aneurysm.

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Overview

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area in the

lower part of the major vessel that supplies blood to the

body (aorta). The aorta runs from your heart through the

center of your chest and abdomen.

The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, so a

ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-

threatening bleeding.

Depending on the size of the aneurysm and how fast it's

growing, treatment varies from watchful waiting to

emergency surgery.

Symptoms

Abdominal aortic aneurysms often grow slowly without

symptoms, making them difficult to detect. Some

aneurysms never rupture. Many start small and stay small;

others expand over time, some quickly.

If you have an enlarging abdominal aortic aneurysm, you

might notice:

Deep, constant pain in your abdomen or on the side of

your abdomen

Back pain

A pulse near your bellybutton

When to see a doctor

If you have pain, especially if pain is sudden and severe,

seek immediate medical help.

Causes

Aneurysms can develop anywhere along the aorta, but

most aortic aneurysms occur in the part of your aorta

that's in your abdomen. A number of factors can play a

role in developing an aortic aneurysm, including:

Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

Atherosclerosis occurs when fat and other substances

build up on the lining of a blood vessel.

High blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage

and weaken the aorta's walls.

Blood vessel diseases.

These are diseases that cause blood vessels to become

inflamed.

Infection in the aorta. Rarely, a bacterial or fungal

infection might cause an abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Trauma. For example, being in a car accident can cause

an abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Risk factors

Abdominal aortic aneurysm risk factors include:

Tobacco use. Smoking is the strongest risk factor. It can

weaken the aortic walls, increasing the risk not only of

developing an aortic aneurysm, but of rupture. The longer

and more you smoke or chew tobacco, the greater the

chances of developing an aortic aneurysm.

Age. These aneurysms occur most often in people age 65

and older.

Being male. Men develop abdominal aortic aneurysms

much more often than women do.

Being white. People who are white are at higher risk of

abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Family history. Having a family history of abdominal aortic

aneurysms increases your risk of having the condition.

Other aneurysms. Having an aneurysm in another large

blood vessel, such as the artery behind the knee or the

aorta in the chest, might increase your risk of an

abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Complications

Tears in one or more of the layers of the wall of the aorta

(aortic dissection) or a ruptured aneurysm are the main

complications. A rupture can cause life-threatening

internal bleeding. In general, the larger the aneurysm and

the faster it grows, the greater the risk of rupture.

Signs and symptoms that your aortic aneurysm has

ruptured can include:

Sudden, intense and persistent abdominal or back pain,

which can be described as a tearing sensation

Low blood pressure

Fast pulse

Aortic aneurysms also put you at risk of developing blood

clots in the area. If a blood clot breaks loose from the

inside wall of an aneurysm and blocks a blood vessel

elsewhere in your body, it can cause pain or block the

blood flow to the legs, toes, kidneys or abdominal organs.

Prevention

To prevent an aortic aneurysm or keep an aortic aneurysm

from worsening, do the following:

Don't use tobacco products. Quit smoking or chewing

tobacco and avoid secondhand smoke.

Eat a healthy diet. Focus on eating a variety of fruits and

vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy

products. Avoid saturated fat, trans fats and limit salt.

Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. If

your doctor has prescribed medications, take them as

instructed.

Get regular exercise. Try to get at least 150 minutes a

week of moderate aerobic activity. If you haven't been

active, start slowly and build up. Talk to your doctor about

what kinds of activities are right for you.

If you're at risk of an aortic aneurysm, your doctor might

recommend other measures, such as medications to

lower your blood pressure and relieve stress on weakened

arteries.

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