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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Complications, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Jul 13, 2023

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Complications, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an dilation of aorta. Aorta exists the heart through the abdominal region and  is the largest blood vessel. So, a  ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can result in a life-threatening haemorrhage.

The aneurysm's size and rate of growth will affect how it is treated. Regular physicals, imaging studies, and even emergency surgery are all forms of treatment.

Read this blog further to get a quick overview of this important topic for MEDICINE and ace your NEET PG exam preparation.

Causes Of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Along the aorta, aneurysms can form at any point. The abdomen is where the majority of aortic aneurysms are found along the aorta, which runs through the belly. The occurrence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm can be caused by a number of factors, such as:

  • Atherosclerosis which is also known as the hardening of blood vessels. A blood vessel's lining can get clogged with fat and other materials, which causes atherosclerosis.
  • Increased blood pressure- The walls of the aorta can suffer harm and become more vulnerable to rupture.
  • Diseases of the Blood Vessels- Blood vessel inflammation is a symptom of many illnesses.
  • Infection of the aorta- An abdominal aortic aneurysm can very rarely result from infection with specific bacteria or fungi.
  • Trauma- An abdominal aortic aneurysm can develop as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident, for instance.

Symptoms Of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An AAA frequently has no obvious symptoms. But if it grows too big, some individuals may experience persistent back discomfort or a throbbing or pulsing sensation in their abdomen (tummy).

Although a larger aneurysm may rupture, a AAA typically does not represent a major risk to health.

Massive internal bleeding from an aneurysm rupture can be deadly. Approximately 8 out of 10 patients who have a rupture either pass away before they get to the hospital or don't make it through surgery.

An abrupt and excruciating pain in the abdomen is the most typical symptom of a ruptured aortic aneurysm.

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Risk Factors Of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysms include:

  • Using Tobacco. The biggest risk factor for aortic aneurysms is smoking. Smoking may weaken blood artery walls, including those of the aorta. This increases the possibility of aneurysm rupture and aortic aneurysm. 
  • The possibility of developing an aortic aneurysm increases with the duration and frequency of tobacco usage. An ultrasound should be performed once to check for an abdominal aortic aneurysm in men between the ages of 65 and 75 who smoke now or in the past.
  • Age. The majority of abdominal aortic aneurysms affect adults 65 and older.
  • Gender. Abdominal aortic aneurysms affect men far more frequently than they do women.
  • Family background. The likelihood of developing the disorder is increased in families with a history of abdominal aortic aneurysms.

If you have weaker arteries and are at risk of developing an aortic aneurysm, you may be prescribed medication to control your blood pressure.

Complications Of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Abdominal aortic aneurysm complications include:

Aortic dissection is the medical term for tears in one or more of the aorta's layers.

The aneurysm rupturing.

A rupture may result in internal bleeding that is fatal. In general, the risk of rupture increases as the aneurysm size and growth rate increase.

Aortic aneurysm symptoms that indicate rupture include:

  • Back or abdominal pain that comes on suddenly, lasts for a long time, and feels like it's ripping or tearing.
  • A low blood pressure.
  • Fast pulse.
  • Blood clots in the area are also more likely to form in people with aortic aneurysms. A blood clot that escapes from an aneurysm's internal wall could block a blood vessel somewhere else in the body.
  • Pain or decreased blood flow to the legs, toes, kidneys, or abdomen area are signs of a clogged blood artery.

Diagnosis Of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Abdominal aortic aneurysms are diagnosed when going  through physical examinations or imaging tests while been getting evaluated for some other disease.

Your doctor will evaluate you and look through your medical and family history in order to determine whether you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Among the examinations used to identify an abdominal aortic aneurysm are

  • Abdomen-Focused Ultrasound. To identify abdominal aortic aneurysms, this test is frequently used. Aorta and other abdominal organs, as well as sound waves, are utilised to demonstrate how blood travels through them.
  • Belly CT scan. During this examination, X-rays are used to produce cross-sectional images of the structures inside the belly area. The aorta can be visualised in crystal clear form. Aneurysm size and shape can also be determined by this test.
  • MRI of the abdomen. In order to provide precise photographs of the structures inside the belly area, this imaging test combines a magnetic field and radio waves produced by a computer.
  • A liquid called contrast may be administered intravenously during some CT and MRI scans to enhance the visibility of the blood arteries on the images.
  • Checking for abdominal aortic aneurysms
  • The chance of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm is greatly increased in men who smoke. Although there are several screening suggestions, generally speaking:
  • Men aged 65 to 75 who have ever smoked cigarettes should get a single abdomen ultrasonography examination.
  • The requirement for abdominal ultrasound in men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have never smoked is determined by other risk factors, such as a family history of aneurysm.
  • In general, it's not necessary to evaluate women for abdominal aortic aneurysms if they have never smoked. The benefits of screening for women between the ages of 65 and 75 who have a history of smoking or a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms are not sufficiently supported by the available data. If you want to know if screening is right for you, talk to your doctor.

Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysms aims to stop the aneurysm from rupturing. The course of treatment could include:

  • Medical monitoring, sometimes known as careful waiting, is the practice of routine health examinations and imaging.
  • Surgery.

The type of treatment you receive is based on the size and growth rate of the abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Regular health examinations

You might simply require routine medical exams and imaging tests to check on the abdominal aortic aneurysm's growth if it is mild and not causing any symptoms.

  • An ultrasound is typically required at least six months after a minor, symptom-free abdominal aortic aneurysm is discovered in a patient. At routine follow-up appointments, abdominal ultrasounds should be performed as well.
  • A medical professional also looks for problems, such high blood pressure, that could exacerbate an aneurysm during routine exams.
  • Procedures such as Surgery- An abdominal aortic aneurysm should typically be repaired surgically if it is 1.9 to 2.2 inches (4.8 to 5.6 centimetres) in diameter or bigger, or if it is expanding rapidly.

If you experience symptoms like stomach ache or have an aneurysm that is leaking sensitive, or painful, repair surgery may also be advised.The procedure's type is determined by:

  • The aneurysm's size and location.
  • Age.
  • Your general well-being.

Options for Healing Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms Include

  • The Endovascular Repair. Aortic aneurysms in the abdominal cavity are most frequently treated with this method. In order to reach the aorta, a surgeon must pass a tiny, flexible tube known as a catheter through an artery in the groyne. At the aneurysm location, a metal mesh tube attached to a catheter is inserted. The mesh tube, also known as a graft, reinforces and widens the aorta's weak spot. By doing so, an aneurysm rupture is avoided.
  • With an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, endovascular surgery is not always a possibility. You should talk about your best repair option with your medical team. In order to ensure that the blood vessel is not leaking, regular imaging examinations are performed following this treatment.
  • Open Surgical Procedure. This is a significant operation. The diseased section of the aorta is cut out by the surgeon, and it is then replaced with a graft that is put into place. An entire recovery could take a month or longer. Both open surgery and endovascular surgery have equal long-term survival rates.

Prevention Of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

 Follow these steps to stop an abdominal aortic aneurysm from developing or from worsening:

  • Avoid using tobacco products or smoking- Quit chewing or smoking tobacco. Don't smoke around others, either. If you need assistance quitting, discuss possible solutions with your healthcare professional.
  • Adopt a balanced diet-  A mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy products should be included in your diet. 
  • Keep your cholesterol and blood pressure under control- If your doctor gives you any medications, take them exactly as directed.
  • Exercise- moderate aerobic exercise each week can help to prevent aneurysms.

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