Good Health Blog

AAA – Not the triple A rating your want

- April 29, 2014

If you are male, aged between 65 and 75 and have ever smoked  then you should consider have a screening done for a AAA (triple A – Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm).

An aneurysm (“AN-yuh-rizm”) is a bulge in a weakened blood vessel. An aneurysm can lead to serious problems.

Your heart pumps blood to the lower part of your body through a large blood vessel called the “abdominal aorta.” If an aneurysm develops here, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

  • Most people who have aneurysms don’t have any symptoms.
  • A large aneurysm can burst. This is very serious, and can even result in death.
  • If you have a large aneurysm, you may need surgery. Finding large aneurysms with screening before they burst may make the surgery and recovery easier.

How is the screening done?

Screening is painless and quick and is usually done at a radiology clinic visit. An ultrasound is used to create a picture of your abdominal aorta using sound waves. The width of your abdominal aorta is then measured to determine whether there is a bulge.

Your next step depends on whether the test finds a bulge in the aorta. If you have a small or medium bulge, your provider may recommend “watchful waiting,” which means having your aneurysm re-checked periodically.

Large bulge (more than 5.4 cm)
You and your provider will discuss what to do next. You may need surgery.

Medium bulge (4.0-5.4 cm)
You and your provider will discuss what to do next. You should probably be re-checked in 6 months.

Small bulge (3.0-3.9 cm)
You should be re-checked in 2-3 years.

 

Normal (No bulge)
Congratulations! You don’t need to be screened again.

 How to not develop a AAA

Smoking increases your risk of having an aneurysm. If you are smoking now, the most important step you can take is to STOP smoking.

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