Living with an Aortic Aneurysm
MARCH 25, 2019
Non-surgical and surgical options for treating aortic aneurysms
An aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of a portion of the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of the body. While this condition can be life-threatening, the answer isn’t always immediate surgery.
The risk of complications from an aneurysm – like a tear or rupture – is related to the size of the aneurysm. “If your aneurysm is small, the risk is quite low, and your doctor may decide to monitor it closely to see if there is growth over time,” says Brett Carroll, MD, Medical Director of the Aortic Center at BIDMC.
By understanding risk factors and undergoing proper screening, you can sometimes delay the need for surgery—while also being prepared to take action quickly, if needed.
“Your doctor may suggest making some heart-healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of an aneurysm rupturing,” Carroll says.
- Quitting smoking
- Managing stress
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Lowering cholesterol
- Controlling blood pressure
- Exercising regularly, while avoiding heavy lifting and straining
Medical management is another non-surgical treatment. "Some medications can help slow the growth and reduce the risk of rupture," Carroll says.
If or when your aortic aneurysm requires surgery, there are various procedures available. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment,” Carroll says. “New advances offer repair without requiring a big open surgery.”