After you are diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, your doctor will evaluate:
- Whether you need the aneurysm repaired.
- Whether you will be able to withstand a surgery or procedure.
- Whether you should wait to repair the aneurysm and get regular tests to check its size and growth.
When repair is recommended
Aortic aneurysms that are causing symptoms or enlarging rapidly are considered at risk of rupturing. Repair is usually recommended if either of these factors is present.
In men, repair is also typically recommended for abdominal aortic aneurysms that are 5.5 cm or larger in diameter, causing symptoms, or are rapidly growing. In women, repair may be recommended for smaller aneurysms.
Repair of thoracic aortic aneurysms is usually recommended when they reach 5.5 to 6.0 cm in diameter.
Monitoring and medical treatment for aortic aneurysm
If surgery is not done to repair your aneurysm, you will have regular tests to see if it is getting bigger.
Smaller aneurysms (less than 5.5 cm in diameter) that are not at high risk for rupturing are typically treated with medicine used to treat high blood pressure, such as a beta-blocker. Beta-blockers may decrease the rate at which aneurysms grow. In general, the risks of surgery to repair smaller aneurysms outweigh the possible benefits, because smaller aneurysms rarely rupture.
You may need to take medicine to treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These measures have not been proved to slow aneurysm growth, but they can improve your life in other ways. These measures reduce your risk of dying from heart attack and stroke.
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Despite some claims, taking antioxidant vitamins has not been proved to reduce the risk of aneurysm or the risk of rupture.
Lifestyle changes for aortic aneurysm
If you smoke, try to quit. Medicines and counseling can help you quit for good.
Your doctor will probably recommend that you make other lifestyle changes, such as following a heart-healthy diet, limiting alcohol, and exercising. Try to do activities that raise your heart rate. Exercise for at least 30 minutes on most, preferably all, days of the week.