Cardiovascular Illness – Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)
Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a swelling in the aorta. This is the main blood vessel that runs from the heart, down through the chest and tummy. AAA can be very serious and dangerous if it isn’t spotted early it can increase over time and could rupture causing life-threatening bleeding. Men aged over 65 are at a more increased risk of this. Therefore they are entitled to screening every year to check for an AAA.
There often aren’t any obvious symptoms of AAA. They are usually often picked up through the screenings that people have or during other tests. Some people who have AAA can get, a pulsing sensation in the tummy, lower back pain that doesn’t go away and a tummy pain that doesn’t go away. If an AAA bursts then it can cause, shortness of breath, fainting, dizziness, severe and sudden back or tummy pain, a rapid heartbeat or sweaty and pale skin. If you feel like you have these or know someone who is having these symptoms ring 999 as this is a very serious health condition.
Who is at risk:
Men aged 65 or over. They are 6 times more common in men than women and the risk of having one increases as you get older. Smokers are 15 times more likely to get an AAA. People who have high blood pressure are also at an increased risk as it can double the chances of you getting an AAA. Siblings, children or parents of someone with the condition are around 4 times likely to have it. If you are concerned that you may be at risk then you can speak to your GP and they may send you to have a scan.
How to reduce your risk:
Making healthy lifestyle changes. Stopping smoking is very important as it can significantly reduce your chances and also improve your general health. The NHS Smokefree services are available to help give you support if your are wanting to stop (call 08006120011 / 03306601166). Eating healthily, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight all tie in together. These factors are important for your cardiovascular health as it can help to prevent your arteries from becoming blocked. Ensuring your cholesterol is healthy is vital as well. The NHS Health Check is a great service to use as your blood pressure and cholesterol are checked as well as other things to keep your heart healthy. Cutting back on alcohol can help to reduce your risk or to help your AAA stop getting bigger.
If you need anymore advice on an AAA then visit the NHS website. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm/