Aortic Aneurysm

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Aortic aneurysms need to be monitored regularly by a doctor with expertise in aortic aneurysm to track changes in the size or character of the aneurysm. Each evaluation should include an echocardiogram, CT scan, or MRI of the aneurysm. At least one evaluation should include a scan of both the chest and the abdomen. Frequency of evaluations depends upon the size of the aneurysm, rate of growth, and a person's age and anxiety level. Some people may need to see their doctor every three months; others semiannually or annually.

If you experience any pain that you suspect may be related to your aneurysm, particularly back or abdominal pain, seek medical attention immediately. You are ultimately responsible for your healthcare. If you suspect a dissection or rupture of an aneurysm, you may need to insist that a CT scan or MRI of the aorta be performed before leaving the emergency room.

Lifestyle recommendations

Choosing a healthful lifestyle can minimize the risk of rupture or dissection of the aorta, a potentially deadly situation. This includes:

  • Stop smoking
  • Smoking affects the elasticity of all the body's tissues including the aorta. Smoking increases the likelihood of developing aortic aneurysms, aortic dissections, and ruptures of aortic aneurysms.

  • Control blood pressure
  • Elevated blood pressure is the fuel of aortic aneurysm, causing them to form and grow. If you've been prescribed beta blockers or other blood pressure medication, take it.
  • Eat a healthful diet low in saturated fats
  • Buildup of cholesterol in the blood stream can lead to inflammation of the aorta and penetrating aortic ulcers, a cause of aortic dissections.
  • Exercising moderately as directed by your doctor
  • Regular aerobic exercise helps control blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are risk factors for aortic dissections and ruptures of aortic aneurysms.
  • Avoid weight lifting
  • Weight lifting causes temporary increases in blood pressure that could potentially result in an aortic dissection or rupture.

Last reviewed on 2/10/2009

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