AAA, or abdominal aortic aneurysm, occurs when there is an enlargement of the lower aorta. This potentially life-threatening condition can be detected through an AAA ultrasound screening.
Since these aneurysms do not often have symptoms prior to rupture, there are risk factors considered to determine who should be screened and how often. Those who are at higher risk are men over the age of 65 who have a history of smoking or family history of AAA.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends one-time screening for AAA for those who have these risk factors. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service recommends screening for all men over the age of 65 regardless of their smoking or family history. If you feel you may be at risk, you should discuss this with your doctor who can then make a screening recommendation.
If abdominal aortic aneurysm is determined to be present, additional ultrasound screenings will likely be recommended to monitor the size and progression of the aneurysm. The intervals of these post-diagnostic screenings will depend on the size and severity of the aneurysm. Not all AAAs will require immediate treatment or surgery. However, lifestyle changes may be recommended to help reduce the size of the aneurysm. These could include reduced smoking, a more balanced diet, and regular exercise. For more information on AAA screening, click here.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm/symptoms-causes/syc-20350688
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening. National Health Service. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm-screening/
- Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2020/0515/od1.html