If you are a man age 65 to 75 and have ever smoked, talk with your doctor about abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
Your doctor may order an ultrasound test to check for AAA. An ultrasound uses sound waves to look inside the body. Most types of ultrasounds are painless.
Aneurysms (“AN-yoor-izms”) usually grow slowly without any symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your doctor about your risk.
If aneurysms grow large enough to burst (break open), they can cause dangerous bleeding inside the body and death. If AAA is found early, it can be treated to stop it from bursting.
What is AAA?
The aorta (“ay-OAR-tah”) is your body’s main artery. An artery is a tube that carries blood away from your heart. The aorta carries blood from your heart to your pelvis, abdomen (stomach), and legs.
If the wall of an artery is weak, the artery can swell like a balloon. This balloon-like swelling is called an aneurysm.
AAA occurs in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen.
Learn more about AAA:
Am I at risk for AAA?
The risk of AAA increases as you get older, and it’s more likely to happen in people between the ages of 60 and 80. Men are much more likely than women to have an AAA. You are 8 times more likely to develop an aneurysm if you smoke.
Other risk factors for AAA include:
How do I know if I have AAA?
There are usually no symptoms of AAA. Blood vessels can swell up slowly over time. That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor about AAA to see if you are at risk.
If you have an aneurysm that starts to tear and cause bleeding, this is a medical emergency. You may suddenly have:
- Pain in your back, stomach, or legs
- Nausea and vomiting
- Clammy (sticky) skin
You will need surgery right away.