What is AAA?

An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm – AAA-is a ballooning of the abdominal aorta. Over time, this aneurysm can weaken and rupture. There are more than 1 million people in the U.S. A. living with undiagnosed AAA. AAA is the third leading cause of death in men over 60. Fortunately, if detected earlier enough through a simple and painless ultrasound screening, 95% of AAAs can be successfully treated.

Your AAA risk increases if you:

  • Are over age 60
  • Smoke or have smoked
  • Are male
  • Have a family history of AAA
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have poor leg circulation

What are AAA symptoms?

Most people with AAA do not experience symptoms.

That’s because the aneurysm grows slowly and can rupture without warning. Individuals who do experience symptoms may describe them as:

  • A pulsing feeling in the abdomen
  • Unexplained, severe pain in the lower back
  • Tenderness in the chest


More About Screening

How is AAA detected?

Most AAAs can be detected through an ultrasound screening.  The screening test is quick and painless, involving a simple ultrasound on the abdomen, similar to a pregnancy ultrasound.



AAA Disease progression.


The aorta is the largest blood vessel.  It carries blood from the heart to vital organs throughout the body.



AAA disease weakens the vessels until it bulges like a balloon.  This bulge is called an aneurysm


If left undetected and untreated, large aneurysms can rupture, leading to massive bleeding, and in some cases, sudden death.  Only 10-25% of patients with a ruptured AAA survives.

Can AAA be treated?

If detected before a rupture, the vast majority of AAAs can be successfully treated.

One of the following may be recommended:

“Watchful Waiting”

If the aneurysm is small, a doctor may decide to watch and wait to see if there are any changes.  In the meantime, a doctor may suggest lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, lowering blood pressure, modifying diet or increasing daily exercise.

“Open Surgical Repair”

The section of the aorta where the aneurysm has formed is replaced with a synthetic fabric tube (graft).  Open surgical repair is performed under General anaesthesia, usually taking 3-4 hours, and may require a hospital stay of 7-10 days.

“Endovascular Stent Grafting”

This is a less invasive alternative to open surgical repair.  The surgeon places a synthetic fabric tube (graft) supported by a metal scaffold (stent) inside the aneurysm.  Hospital stays can be shorter – typically lasting 2-4 days.

What Can I Do?

If you or someone you love, like your husband, mother or grandfather, is at risk for AAA, ask your doctor today:

  • What is AAA?
  • Am I at risk?
  • Should I be screened?
  • Where can I receive screening?
  • What should I do if my screening indicates an abnormality?
  • Is there anything I can do to prevent AAA?