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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a bulge in your aorta that occurs when the aorta's walls are weakened. The aorta is a large blood vessel that extends from your heart to your abdomen. An AAA may develop anywhere in your aorta, but it often occurs in your lower abdomen, near your navel.
- Medicine: You may be given blood pressure or cholesterol medicine to help stop your AAA from growing.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider every 6 to 12 months, or as directed:
You will need regular ultrasounds and follow-up visits to monitor the size of your AAA. Keep all your appointments. Seek care immediately if you have any pain in your back, abdomen, side, or legs in between your appointments. Also seek care if you are dizzy or feel faint. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods: This may help you have more energy and heal faster. Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
- Drink liquids as directed: Adults should drink between 9 and 13 eight-ounce cups of liquid every day. Ask what amount is best for you. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and milk.
- Get plenty of exercise: Talk to your caregiver about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise can decrease your blood pressure and improve your health.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. You are more likely to have heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health problems if you smoke. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you. If you smoke, ask for information about how to stop.
- Manage stress: Stress may slow healing and cause illness. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.
- Avoid lifting: Do not push, pull, or lift heavy things until your healthcare provider says it is okay.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have blood in your bowel movements.
- Your heartbeat is pounding or slow.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have sudden, severe pain in your stomach, back, or side. The pain may move down to your legs, hips, and groin.
- Your heart beats faster than normal, or you can feel a pulse in your abdomen.
- You have nausea and vomiting.
- Your abdomen feels hard and tight when you touch it.
- You become confused.
- You are pale and sweaty, or you become weak or faint.
- You have sudden chest pain or trouble breathing.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.