Aneurysm, abdominal aortic
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a swelling (aneurysm) of the aorta the main blood vessel that leads away from the heart, down through the abdomen to the rest of the body.
The abdominal aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body and is usually around 2 cm wide roughly the width of a garden hose. However, it can swell to over 5.5 cm what doctors class as a large AAA.
Large aneurysms are rare, but can be very serious. If a large aneurysm bursts, it causes huge internal bleeding and is usually fatal.
The bulging occurs when the wall of the aorta weakens. Although what causes this weakness is unclear, smoking and high blood pressure are thought to increase the risk of an aneurysm.
AAAs are most common in men aged over 65. A rupture accounts for more than 1 in 50 of all deaths in this group and a total of 6,000 deaths in England and Wales each year.
This is why all men are invited for a Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening when they turn 65. The test involves a simple ultrasound scan , which takes around 10-15 minutes.
In most cases, an AAA causes no noticeable symptoms. However, if it becomes large, some people may develop a pain or a pulsating feeling in theirabdomen (tummy)or persistent back pain.
An AAA doesnt usually pose a serious threat to health, but theres a risk that a larger aneurysm could burst (rupture).
A ruptured aneurysm can cause massive internal bleeding, which is usually fatal. Around 8 out of 10 people with a rupture either die before they reach hospital or dont survive surgery.
The most common symptom of a ruptured aortic aneurysm is sudden and severe pain in the abdomen.
If you suspect that you or someone else has had a ruptured aneurysm, call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
This is also how an aneurysm will be diagnosed if your doctor suspects you have one.
This is usually done with surgery to replace the weakened section of the blood vessel with a piece of synthetic tubing.
If surgery is not advisable or if you decide not to have it there are a number of non-surgical treatments that can reduce the risk of an aneurysm rupturing.
They include medications to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure , and quitting smoking .
You will also have the size of your aneurysm checked regularly with ultrasound scanning.
All men in England are invited for screening in the year they turn 65.
Men who are over 65 and have not previously been screened can request a screening test by contacting their local AAA screening service directly.
Women and men under 65 are not invited for screening.
However, if you feel you have an increased risk of having an AAA, talk to your GP who can still refer you for a scan.
If you are experiencing the following:
You must contact a medical professional, because you may be suffering from an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a swelling (aneurysm) of the aorta; the main blood vessel that leads away from the heart, down through the abdomen to the rest of the body. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the human body. This vessel originates from the heart, spans the chest and extends down to the stomach. The segment of the aorta which supplies the organs of the abdomen with blood, is called the abdominal aorta. An aneurysm is the swelling of a small segment of the aorta (up to 5 cm, when the normal width of the aorta lumen is 2 cm)
In most cases, an unruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) will cause no symptoms, unless it becomes particularly large. If your aortic aneurysm ruptures, you will feel a sudden and severe pain in the middle or side of your abdomen. In men, the pain can also radiate down into the scrotum. A ruptured aortic aneurysm is a medical emergency, and its important to get to hospital as soon as possible.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when part of the aorta wall becomes weakened, causing it to bulge outwards to form an aneurysm. Research has found that smokers are seven times more likely to develop an AAA than people who have never smoked. The more you smoke, the greater your risk of developing an AAA. People who regularly smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day may have more than 10 times the risk of non-smokers.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) usually causes no symptoms. Therefore, they tend to be diagnosed as a result of screening, or during a routine physical examination when a GP notices a distinctive pulsating sensation in your abdomen. A diagnosis is usually made following consultation with a medical professional. The patient is recommended an abdominal ultrasound, or a contrast scanner, which both help the physician to determine the position of the aneurysm and its size.
Treatment for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) depends on several factors, including the aneurysm's size, your age and general health. The treatment of aneurysms depends on the condition of the patient, the position and size of the aneurysm, etc. If the aneurysm is small, it poses little risk, and thus the treatment adapted is conservative. The patient is usually advised to make certain lifestyle changes (quitting smoking, avoiding foods high in fats, exercising, maintain a lower blood pressure). If the aneurysm is large, a surgical intervention is necessary, which may involve: endovascular surgery, open surgery.
The best way to prevent getting an aneurysm, or reduce the risk of an aneurysm growing bigger and possibly rupturing, is to avoid anything that could damage your blood vessels. To prevent the occurrence of an AAA, the patient is recommended: to quit smoking, light exercise, avoiding foods high in unhealthy fats & to lose weight (if overweight), if previously suffering from arterial hypertension, to maintain normal values. If your GP finds out you have high blood pressure or a high cholesterol level, you may be prescribed medication for both.
When trumpeter Peter Cripps, had a CT scan for a kidney stone, an abdominal aortic aneurysm was also discovered. The surgeon came to see me straight away and recommended an open AAA operation, which was done on January 16 2007. The operation went really well, and I was out of hospital a week later.