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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA), a specific kind of aneurysm, is a condition in which the lining of the blood vessel called the aorta is enlarged within the abdomen. Abdominal aortic aneurysms pose a threat because they are usually silent until a medical emergency occurs.

The abdominal aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body and the main artery that originates in the heart. As the lining weakens from age and other risk factors, the vessel wall thins and expands. The most common location for an AAA is between where the aorta divides to supply blood to the kidneys and where it divides to supply blood to the pelvis and legs.

Screening for Aortic Aneurysms

  • A painless, non-invasive procedure, an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening requires you to lie on your back while a technician uses ultrasound to take images and measurements of your abdominal aorta. Watch an abdominal aortic aneurysm video to learn more.

Who should have an aortic aneurysm screening?

  • Anyone with risk factors

How often should I get an aortic aneurysm screening?

  • Annually

*Recommended guidelines only. Consult with your physician.

How do I prepare for an aortic aneurysm screening?

  • Wear a comfortable, loose-fitting, two-piece outfit
  • Fast for four hours prior to your screening
  • Make sure the meal you eat four hours prior to your screening is a light one (less than half of what you normally eat of non-gassy food)
  • If you are thirsty during your fasting period, you may have half a cup of coffee or tea and a moderate amount of water
  • If you take medication, take it as prescribed
  • If you are diabetic and are not comfortable fasting for four hours, please limit yourself to a "diabetic meal" (piece of toast, one cup of any kind of juice and a half of a cup of coffee or tea). If you are in doubt, please follow your diabetic care plan.

Warning signs

Many people with abdominal aortic aneurysm do not experience symptoms; these are the most common warning signs:

  • Intense back or abdominal pain
  • Rapid pulse
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shock
  • Risk factors
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Emphysema
  • Genetic factors
  • Gender (males have a higher risk)

For more information download our AAA Fact Sheet

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