Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) in men

Aorta, the largest blood vessel present in the body helps in carrying blood from the heart to the different parts like the legs, abdomen etc. When the aorta is weak, it usually swells like a balloon and this weakness might be caused due to several reasons. This condition of the swelling of the aorta is known as abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and it occurs in the abdominal area.

AAAs doesn’t cause any trouble as such unless the aneurysm is ruptured, where it can lead to death. Hence, the doctor will observe the patient closely if he/she is diagnosed with an aneurysm.

On the basis of the size and the speed of the growth of the AAAs, they can be classified into two types:
• Small or slow-growing AAAs: they have a lowered risk of rupture
• Large or fast-growing AAAs: they have a higher chance of rupturing, which can cause internal bleeding and other types of complications.

Causes
Though the causes of AAAs are not completely known, factors that increase the risk are:
• Smoking: It directly damages the walls of the arteries making them bulge.
• High Blood Pressure or hypertension: It can result in weakening and later forming aneurysm.
• Vascular Infection (Vasculitis): serious infections inside the aorta or arteries can lead to the occurrence of AAAs

Men are the ones who take more tension or they frequently engage in activities like smoking, and hence they have a tendency to suffer from AAAs more than women.

Risk Factors
The risk factors that help in predisposing AAAs in men are:
• Smoking tobacco products
• Living a sedentary lifestyle
• Having diabetes
• Having a family history of diseases and heart conditions
• Being overweight or obese
• More than 60 years old
• Having high blood pressure when between the age 35 to 60 years
• Having fatty build up or high cholesterol in the vessels

Symptoms
Rupturing of an aneurysm may result in the following symptoms:
• Experiencing a sudden pain in the abdominal area
• Sweaty hands
• Losing consciousness or getting a shock
• Increase in the heart rate
• Pain spreading across the legs, buttocks and pelvis from the abdomen or back

Diagnosis
AAAs is normally detected by the doctor during the examination of the abdomen. The doctor will check the blood flow to the legs and also see if it is rigid having a pulsing mass. Tests used for scanning the abdomen include:
• Abdominal MRI
• Abdominal ultrasound
• CT scan
• Chest X-ray

Treatments
One of the best treatments for AAAs includes a surgery. In case of the surgery, the damaged tissue is either repaired or removed and this depends on the size and the location of the aneurysm. It also depends on the overall health of the patient. There are mainly two types of surgeries involved:

• Open abdominal surgery: It’s employed to remove the damaged parts of the aorta. It’s more invasive and takes longer recovery time as compared to the other. This medical procedure is essential when the aorta has already ruptured and is large.

• Endovascular surgery: It is less invasive as compared to the previous procedure involving the use of graft for repairing the walls of the weakened aorta.

In case the rupture is less than 4 centimetres in width for a small AAA, the doctor will observe it regularly before performing any surgery. It is because; surgeries lead to a lot of risks.

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