The aorta is the biggest blood vessel in the body. It runs from the heart, down the chest, and through the abdomen. The lower part of the aorta, called the abdominal aorta, splits in half and extends into each leg. An aneurysm occurs when a blood vessel balloons out and widens a part of the vessel because of unstable blood vessel walls. An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the aorta widens in the abdominal area.
What Causes an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?
The specific cause of any aneurysm, whether in the heart or somewhere else in the body, is unknown. Here is some information on factors that can affect abdominal aortic aneurysms:
- High Blood Pressure: increased pressure in your blood vessels can damage the vessel walls.
- Hardened arteries: the buildup of fat and other substances such as cholesterol can lead to issues in the blood vessels
- Infection: bacteria that enter the aorta can damage it
- Blood Vessel Diseases: diseases that can cause inflammation in the aorta include strokes, pulmonary embolisms, and arteriovenous malformation
- Physical Trauma: physical trauma, such as a blow to the abdomen, can cause an abdominal aortic aneurysm
What Are the Risk Factors for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?
A few factors can put you at risk of developing abdominal aortic aneurysms:
- Smoking: Researchers have discovered that smokers are more likely to develop aneurysms compared to people who do not smoke.
- Gender: Men are more likely to get an abdominal aortic aneurysm compared to women.
- Age: Men and women over the age of 65 develop abdominal aortic aneurysms more frequently than younger individuals
- Family History: Abdominal aortic aneurysm can be hereditary, so individuals with a family history of the disease are at greater risk
- Blood Vessel Diseases: diseases such as atherosclerosis can increase the risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm because hardened arteries become weaker
Signs of an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?
One scary thing about abdominal aortic aneurysms is that they are known as a silent killer. Often, there are no signs or symptoms that something is wrong. Some small symptoms may include abdominal pain, a sensation in the stomach, or a hard stomach.
A healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Some components of a healthy lifestyle include:
- Maintaining a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet full of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and protein can help avoid many health issues. Foods that have zero saturated fat, trans fat, and low salt are good choices.
- Regular Exercise: Prioritizing exercise can work wonders for your health and your body. Try to incorporate some type of physical activity multiple times a week.
- Control your blood pressure and cholesterol: Talk to a medical professional to understand what is a good blood pressure or cholesterol level and maintain those levels to ensure healthy blood vessels.
At South Valley Vascular, our health experts can answer all your questions about abdominal aortic aneurysms and more. To learn more, please visit our website. To schedule an appointment, contact us at (559) 625-4118.