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  • Writer's pictureDr Desmond Ooi

Preventing Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Lifestyle Changes and Risk Reduction Strategies

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is characterised by the weakening and ballooning of the aorta, the body's largest artery, as it passes through the abdomen. While AAA may sound intimidating, understanding the risk factors and implementing proactive measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing this potentially serious condition. In this blog, we'll delve into the various aspects of AAA prevention, empowering you to take charge of your vascular health.


Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Risk Factors


cigarette smoke

Before we learn how to prevent abdominal aortic aneurysm, let’s understand the factors that can increase your risk of the condition: 


Genetic predisposition: Individuals with a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms are inherently at a higher risk due to inherited genetic factors that predispose them to the condition. 


Age and gender considerations: Ageing is a risk factor for AAA, with the likelihood of developing the condition increasing as individuals grow older. Moreover, men are disproportionately affected by AAA compared to women, particularly those over the age of 65. 


Smoking: The harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke weaken the walls of the arteries, making them more susceptible to the development of aneurysms. 


Hypertension: Chronic high blood pressure exerts continuous strain on the walls of the aorta, increasing the likelihood of weakening and bulging. 


Obesity: Excess body weight places additional pressure on the blood vessels, including the aorta, making them more susceptible to damage and aneurysm formation. 


High cholesterol levels: Elevated cholesterol levels in the blood can lead to plaque accumulation within the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This buildup narrows the arteries and compromises blood flow, increasing the risk of aneurysm development. 


Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity contributes to arterial stiffness and reduced blood flow, creating an environment conducive to the development of AAA. Regular exercise improves cardiovascular health, enhances blood vessel elasticity, and reduces the risk of aneurysm formation. 


Lifestyle Changes for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Prevention

The cornerstone of AAA prevention lies in lifestyle modifications:


Smoking Cessation: Quitting smoking is perhaps the most impactful change one can make to reduce AAA risk. Tobacco use significantly weakens arterial walls and accelerates the development of aneurysms.


Healthy Diet: Adopting a nutritious diet low in saturated fats and sodium can help manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing strain on the arteries.


Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular physical activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, promotes cardiovascular health and enhances overall vascular function.


Stress Management: Incorporating stress management techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can further support vascular health by reducing the impact of chronic stress on the body.


Importance of Regular Health Check-ups


patient going through ct scan

Regular health check-ups help to monitor vascular health and detect any early signs of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Here's why:


Monitoring blood pressure 


Home blood pressure monitoring: Home blood pressure monitoring allows you to keep tabs on your blood pressure regularly using a blood pressure monitor, which can help spot any changes or irregularities.


Regular visits to doctor: Regular visits to the doctor provide an opportunity for thorough blood pressure checks and monitoring over time, making sure any worrying trends are dealt with promptly.


Screening


Ultrasound screening: Ultrasound screening is suggested for those at risk of AAA, especially those with a family history or other risk factors. It's a non-invasive method that lets healthcare providers see the abdominal aorta and spot any signs of aneurysm.


CT scan: If ultrasound results are unclear or more detailed imaging is needed, a computed tomography (CT) scan may be recommended to provide a closer look at the abdominal aorta.


Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Management and Treatment

Dr. Desmond Ooi emphasises the importance of proactive management to mitigate risks and enhance vascular health. He begins by guiding patients through lifestyle modifications, empowering them to make informed choices for long-term well-being. 


For individuals facing more advanced stages of AAA, Dr. Ooi offers specialised interventions such as angioplasty or bypass surgery, ensuring comprehensive care tailored to individual needs. Take the first step towards AAA management by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Desmond Ooi.



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