Dr. Maciej Malinski is on the medical staff at Sherman Hospital. He has been kind enough to answer some frequently asked questions related to maintaining a healthy heart in his Ask the Cardiologist series. To see all posts Dr. Malinski has written, just type “Ask the Cardiologist” into the search bar on the right.
Q: How do I know if I have AAA (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm)? Are there any symptoms?
A: Most AAAs grow silently, leaving patients asymptomatic. They can easily go undetected on a physical examination because it can be difficult to feel enlarged aorta though the layer of abdominal wall. That is why AAAs are often detected incidentally on abdominal ultrasounds or CTs that are ordered for some other reasons.
Patients who are at a higher risk for AAA are males past the age of 50. Additional risk factors that increase the risk are smoking, high blood pressure, family history of AAA in first degree male relative, and history of arterial disease in other parts of the body (arteries in the heart CAD, legs PAD, neck).
Guidelines support screening tests for males over the age of 60 who have family history of AAA, or who have ever smoked. The starting point would be physical examination, and then ultrasound of the abdomen.
In clinical practice, we usually recommend screening tests (ultrasound) for all patients over 60 with family history of AAA in first degree relative, and in smokers or previous smokers, and in patients with history of arterial disease or hypertension.
The most important part of the therapy for AAA is smoking cessation, control of blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and exercise.
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This post is published by Sherman Health to provide general health information. It is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from your physician.