Living With Aortic Aneurysm
Once an aortic aneurysm develops, it is at risk of growing bigger. If you are diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, your physician will want to see you regularly for imaging tests to ensure that the aneurysm is not growing too fast. It is very important for you to keep up with these health visits.
You can help slow the growth of the aneurysm and prevent complications by paying close attention to other health problems you may have and living a healthy lifestyle.
The most important way you can slow the progress of an aneurysm is to control your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, the extra force pushes against the walls of the aneurysm causing it to expand.
If you have been given medicine for your blood pressure, it is very important to take it exactly as instructed. Your doctor may also advise you not to lift heavy weights, which may cause sudden increases in your blood pressure.
Smoking, obesity, drinking too much alcohol, and a sedentary lifestyle all contribute to high blood pressure. At the same time, these are all bad for your overall health. If you need to have surgery or a procedure to repair your aorta, your overall health would factor into your recovery. Therefore, it is important to:
- Keep a healthy weight or have a body-mass index (BMI) of less than 30. (Calculate your BMI).
- Keep your blood pressure controlled.
- Quit smoking, if you do. There are medications and counseling options available to help you stop; 1-800-QUIT-NOW is a great resource.
- Be physically active. You can do this by brisk walking or biking for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Keep your alcohol intake to at most 1-2 drinks a day.
Reduce the amount of salt (sodium) you take into your body. Anything sold in a jar (e.g. pickles), can (e.g. canned vegetables), or a bag (e.g. chips) tends to be high in salt. Limit the amount of sodium you take in each day to less than 2,300 milligrams. You can track this by reading food labels. Many products now have low-salt versions, and there are also substitutes for table salt available in stores.
Adopt a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in cholesterol and saturated fats. This will help control your blood pressure as well as your cholesterol levels. It also will decrease the risk of aneurysm complications.
With close follow-up, good blood pressure control and a healthy lifestyle, many patients living with aortic aneurysms can do well and may not need an intervention.
Published: May 2018
Editorial Team Lead: Edward A. Hulten, MD, FACC
Medical Contributors: Ravi Ghanta, MD; Neelima Katukuri, MD, FACC; Brett Reece, MD; David Solarz, MD, FACC; Isik Turker, MD, FACC