How can I prevent the formation of an aortic aneurysm?
There are two considerations in prevention regarding abdominal aortic aneurysms:
- Prevention of aortic aneurysm development
- Prevention of aortic aneurysm rupture
Aortic aneurysms that are due to inherited tissue disorders (Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos syndromes or other collagen vascular diseases) cannot be prevented. Also, age, family history, and the gender predilection toward males are all givens. Risks for aneurysms involving infection, inflammation, and trauma are unpredictable. All of this fall into the category of preventing rupture.
The risk factors of aneurysms that can be prevented are:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Smoking and its progression to COPD and coronary artery, heart, and cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Treatment of hypertension via lifestyle changes, diet, and exercise can be augmented by the use of anti-hypertensive medication. This is crucial in those already diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, due to the hypertensive risk of its dissection or rupture.
Smoking is included in the change in lifestyle, and there are medications that can help when conventional non-pharmaceutical approaches fail. Smoking’s complications of COPD and CVD secondarily raise the risk of dissection or rupture of an existing aneurysm. Therefore, smoking cessation will reduce the secondary risks that arise from the complications to which smoking contributes.
Dietary adjustments are also part of the change in lifestyle, since hypertension and CVD can be impacted negatively or positively by diet. Counseling with a certified dietitian/nutritionist will assure reliable information upon which a patient can construct an appropriate diet.