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An aneurysm occurs when part of an artery wall weakens, allowing it to balloon out or widen. The cause of an aneurysm is sometimes unknown. Some people are born with them. They also can be hereditary. Aortic disease or an injury also may cause an aneurysm.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs in the segment near or below the renal arteries. The concern for an aortic aneurysm is that as it enlarges, there is a risk of rupture, which is life-threatening. The biggest factors in this risk are the size and characteristics of the AAA. Some aortic aneurysms can remain small, requiring only observation to check the size.
The Norton Heart & Vascular Institute vascular surgeons are fellowship trained and board certified. They are experienced in the latest minimally invasive techniques and traditional surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm. They work collaboratively with providers throughout Norton Healthcare to deliver sophisticated treatment customized to your condition and needs.
Because aortic aneurysms often show no symptoms prior to a rupture, a physical exam of the abdomen, ultrasound imaging or other screening tool can help diagnose this silent problem.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men, ages 65 to 75 who smoke currently or smoked at some point in their life, get an ultrasound abdominal aortic aneurysm screening even if they have no symptoms. The recommendations for women are still being evaluated, and ultrasound screenings are not currently recommended. Other considerations for screening include a family history of aneurysms and other medical factors.
The ultrasound test is similar to that used to capture images of a fetus in its mother’s uterus and is noninvasive.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms most often grow slowly without any noticeable symptoms. If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider. (The symptoms below are not specific and may be caused by other issues.)
A ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm requires immediate emergency treatment. Signs include:
Many lifestyle habits and health conditions can increase the risk of developing an aortic aneurysm.
Risk factors for development of abdominal aortic aneurysm include:
An abdominal aortic aneurysm of less than 5 centimeters (about 2 inches), usually can be monitored and may not require treatment unless it gets larger.
You also will be treated for medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, that could worsen your aneurysm. Your doctor may suggest lifestyle adjustments such as stopping smoking or modifying your diet.
You will need regular imaging tests to check on the size of your aneurysm. This can be performed by abdominal ultrasound or CT scan. Regular clinic visits and follow-up exams are determined by the size of the aneurysm. Treatment options include:
Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers patient resources to support you and your family, including free classes for people of all ages who are seeking to improve cardiovascular health or living with a heart condition.
Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
Our cardiac rehabilitation providers are leaders in developing and applying innovative techniques that can help you recover and resume your life.
Connecting Hearts Support Group
The group provides education and support to individuals who have had a heart attack, are living with a heart condition or are at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Heart Health Screenings
Prevention is the best way to manage heart disease, and screenings are available to detect early signs of cardiac and vascular disease and identify risk factors.
Every year, more than 137,000 people in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists for their heart and vascular care. That’s more than any other health care provider.
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