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Nonruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
What you need to know about an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA):
The aorta is a large blood vessel that extends from your heart to your abdomen. The part of the aorta that extends into your abdomen is called your abdominal aorta. Your abdominal aorta brings blood to your stomach, pelvis, and legs. An AAA is a bulging or weak area in your abdominal aorta. Over time, the bulge may grow and is at risk for tearing or rupturing. An AAA that ruptures is a life-threatening emergency.
Signs and symptoms:
An AAA usually does not have signs or symptoms if it has not ruptured. If the AAA starts to leak or ruptures, you may have any of the following:
- Sudden pain in your abdomen, groin, back, legs, or buttocks
- Nausea and vomiting
- A lump or swelling in your abdomen
- Stiff abdominal muscles
- Numbness or tingling in your legs
- Pale, sweaty, or clammy skin
- Dizziness, fainting or loss of consciousness
Call 911 or have someone else call for any of the following:
- You faint or lose consciousness.
- You cannot be woken.
Seek care immediately if:
The following signs or symptoms may mean the AAA is at risk of rupturing:
- You have sudden sharp pain in your abdomen, groin, back, legs, or buttocks.
- You have nausea and vomiting.
- You feel dizzy.
- You have stiffness or swelling in your abdomen, or a lump in your abdomen.
- You have numbness or tingling in your legs.
- Your skin is pale, sweaty, or clammy.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment of an AAA
may not be needed. Your healthcare provider may monitor the size of your AAA with tests, such as an ultrasound. You may be given medicines to prevent the AAA from growing. Examples include blood pressure medicine and medicine to lower your cholesterol. If your AAA gets bigger, starts to leak, or ruptures, you may need any of the following:
- Endovascular repair is a procedure that uses a graft to repair your AAA. The graft stops blood flow to the aneurysm and protects your abdominal aorta. You may need to have more than 1 endovascular repair.
- Open repair is surgery to repair or remove an AAA.
Manage a nonruptured AAA:
You can help prevent your AAA from growing or rupturing by doing the following:
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase your blood pressure. It can also damage your aorta and increase the size of your AAA. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Exercise as directed. Exercise can help control your blood pressure and cholesterol level. Ask your healthcare provider how much exercise you need each day and which exercises are best for you.
- Follow the meal plan recommended by your healthcare provider. Talk to your dietitian about a heart-healthy or low-sodium eating plan. Meal plans will help you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. They will also help you reach a healthy weight.
- Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds. Heavy lifting can increase pressure in your abdominal aorta. This can increase your risk for a ruptured AAA.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You will need regular tests and follow-up visits to monitor the size of your AAA. Keep all appointments. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.