An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when the lower part of the abdominal aorta becomes swollen and enlarged. In many cases, AAA will display no symptoms, making it a potentially dangerous condition if left untreated.
The abdominal aorta is the largest artery, and it supplies oxygen-rich blood to the lower part of the body. If a weak area of the abdominal aorta expands or bulges, it can burst, causing severe internal bleeding and even death. Immediate medical attention is crucial during this time.
The large or faster-growing aneurysms have a higher risk of rupture, which can lead to internal bleeding and many complications. The larger the aneurysm, the more serious it can become, and it’s more likely that surgery will be necessary.
Some symptoms of a ruptured AAA include:
- Sudden, intense and persistent abdominal or back pain
- Pain that radiates to your back or legs
- Low blood pressure
- Fast pulse
- Loss of consciousness
- Shortness of breath
Who is at risk? You are more likely to develop AAA if you:
- Are over the age of 60
- Are male
- Are overweight
- Have a sedentary job or lifestyle
- Smoke or use tobacco products
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
- Have a family history of AAA
- Have diabetes
- Have experienced abdominal damage
- Have atherosclerosis
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are typically treated surgically. When indicated, unruptured aneurysms can undergo elective repair. If the AAA ruptures, immediate emergency surgical repair is required.
For open abdominal surgery, the surgeon makes a large cut in the abdomen to remove damaged areas of the aorta. Open repair is used when the aneurysm is very large or has ruptured, and the procedure requires longer recovery time.
Endovascular surgery (inside the blood vessel) is a less invasive treatment with less recovery time. It is a better option if you have other medical problems and is well suited for patients with a leaking or bleeding aneurysm.
If you have been experiencing any symptoms, or if you have family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms and would like to speak with a professional, call the experts at Vascular Specialty Center at (225) 769-4493 for more information.