Living with an Aortic Aneurysm

BIDMC Contributor

MARCH 25, 2019

Couple with aortic aneurysms walking

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.

Aortic AneurysmBy 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.

This includes:

  • 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.”

Read about the various procedures offered by the Aortic Center at BIDMC, and watch this video which explains why it's essential to seek treatment if necessary.

Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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