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Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a weakening in the wall of the aorta 3 cm in diameter or greater.

Who is at risk

Although the exact cause of abdominal aortic aneurysms is unknown, a number of factors may play a role, including:

  • Tobacco use
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood vessel diseases in the aorta
  • Infection in the aorta
  • Trauma
  • Family history

Symptoms

As an abdominal aortic aneurysm gets bigger, some people may notice:

  • A pulsating feeling near the navel
  • Deep, constant pain in your abdomen or on the side of your abdomen
  • Back pain

Signs and symptoms that your aortic aneurysm has ruptured may include:

  • Sudden, intense and persistent abdominal or back pain, which can be described as a tearing sensation
  • Pain that radiates to your back or legs
  • Sweatiness
  • Clamminess
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fast pulse

If you have any of these signs and symptoms, such as sudden severe back or abdominal pain, get immediate emergency help.

What you can do

  • Stop smoking if you do
  • Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Have your preventive screening

Preventive service at no cost

Men Ages 65 to 75 Years who Have Ever Smoked

The USPSTF recommends one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) with ultrasonography in men ages 65 to 75 years who have ever smoked. 


Why screening is important

Abdominal aortic aneurysms are often undiagnosed because many times there are no symptoms until they rupture. Because the aorta is the body's main supplier of blood, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.

What the screening is

Ultrasonography is noninvasive, can be conducted at a low cost, and does not involve radiation exposure.

Treatment

Depending on the size and the rate at which your abdominal aortic aneurysm is growing, treatment may vary from watchful waiting to emergency surgery. Your doctor will tell you what is appropriate for you.

Additional tips

Overall health is important.

  • Eat a heart healthy diet.
  • Get plenty of exercise.

Resources