Skip directly to content

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Text Increase:
Text Increase Normal
Text Increase Large
Text Increase Largest

The aorta is an artery that carries blood from the heart through the body. It is the largest artery in the body and runs from the heart to the abdomen, before splitting into the arteries that supply blood to the legs. When the aorta suffers an aneurysm, the blood vessel has weakened and bulges in the frail area. Most aortic aneurysms are in the abdominal portion of the aorta. Abdominal aortic aneurysm, abbreviated as AAA or triple A, require assessment by a physician. Large aneurysms can rupture causing internal bleeding. In best-case scenarios, half of all patients who have an abdominal aortic aneurysm that bursts will die from internal bleeding. When possible preventative surgery to prevent rupture is essential.

Symptoms

Abdominal aortic aneurysm can be asymptomatic. When symptoms are present, they may include pain in the abdomen, back or legs.

Causes

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is caused by the weakening and subsequent expansion of the aorta. There are a variety of risk factors that can cause the aortic walls to become more susceptible to aneurysm. Anything that can lead to hardened veins, or atherosclerosis, can lead to aneurysm as the vein may work harder and flex to accommodate the hardened portion of the vein. Men more frequently develop abdominal aortic aneurysm and men over 65 with a history of tobacco use are the patients most frequently diagnosed with AAA. 

Risk factors for that can lead to abdominal aortic aneurysm can include:

  • Age
  • Aortic valve disorders
  • Aortic infection and inflammation
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Hypertension
  • Tobacco use

If you smoke, quitting can greatly reduce your risk of developing triple A. Over 90% of all patients diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysm reported being smokers at one point in their life. Smoking puts stress on the heart and veins that could contribute to aneurysm.

Treatment

Not all aneurysms require treatment and treatment options can vary from case to case. The vascular surgeons at Cardiac Surgery Associates of Tampa can recommend the best course of action to individuals diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysm. Your doctor will recommend treatment based on a number of factors including but not limited to: the location and size of the aneurysm present, the stress placed on the aortic wall, the strength of the aortic wall, the growth rate of the aneurysm, the symmetry of the aneurysm and other measurements.

Based on the results of diagnostic testing and imaging, treatment options could include blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medication to reduce stress on arteries, close monitoring of the aneurysm or surgical options such as endovascular aneurysm repair and arterial grafting.

These treatment options are only possible prior to an aneurysm bursting. A ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm is a serious medical emergency. Signs of a ruptured aneurysm can include:

  • Clamminess
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden and intense pain in the abdomen and back
  • Sweatiness
  • Unconsciousness

If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms please proceed to your nearest emergency room immediately.

If you have additional questions about the treatment options available for abdominal aortic aneurysm, please contact the Cardiac Surgery Associates of Tampa online or by phone at 813.910.0027.