Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Discussion

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Discussion

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Discussion

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What are the symptoms and who are at risk of having this condition?

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a bulge or swelling in the aorta, the main blood vessel that runs from the heart down through the chest and tummy.

An AAA can be dangerous if it is not spotted early on.

It can get bigger over time and could burst (rupture), causing life-threatening bleeding.

Screening for AAA is routinely offered by the NHS to all men aged 65 and over.

Women aged 70 or over, who have underlying risk factors such as high blood pressure, may also be advised to attend screening for AAA.

Symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
AAAs do not usually cause any obvious symptoms, and are often only picked up during screening or tests carried out for another reason.

Some people with an AAA have:

a pulsing sensation in the tummy (like a heartbeat)
tummy pain that does not go away
lower back pain that does not go away
If an AAA bursts, it can cause:

sudden, severe pain in the tummy or lower back
sweaty, pale and clammy skin
a fast heartbeat
shortness of breath
fainting or passing out
Call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone else develops symptoms of a burst AAA.

When to get medical help
Make an appointment to see a GP as soon as possible if you have symptoms, especially if you’re at a higher risk of an AAA.

An ultrasound scan of your tummy may be done to check if you have one.Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Discussion

Call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone else develops symptoms of a burst AAA.

Who’s at risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
An AAA can form if the sides of the aorta weaken and balloon outwards. It’s not always clear why this happens, but there are things that increase the risk.

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Spirituality is the way to find meaning, hope, comfort, and inner peace in life. Many people find spirituality through religion. Some people find it through music, art, or a connection with nature. Others find it in their values and principles. Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than myself, something more to being human than sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or divine in nature.

Healthy spirituality gives a sense of peace, wholeness, and balance among the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of our lives. However, for most people, the path to such spirituality passes through struggles and suffering and often includes experiences that are frightening and painful. Positive beliefs, comfort, and strength gained from religion, meditation, and prayer can contribute to well-being. It may even promote healing. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better.

Patients who are spiritual may utilize their beliefs in coping with illness, pain, and life stresses. Some studies indicate that those who are spiritual tend to have a more positive outlook and a better quality of life (Bogue, 2020).

Similar to other caring activities and procedures, spiritual care improves people’s spiritual well-being and performance as well as the quality of their spiritual life. Spiritual care has positive effects on individuals’ stress responses, and spiritual well-being such as the balance between physical, psychosocial, and spiritual aspects of self, a sense of integrity and excellence, and interpersonal relationships. Spiritual well-being is important for an individual’s health potential and the experience of illness/hospitalization can threaten the optimum achievement of this potential. Professional nursing embraces spiritual care as a dimension of practice.

Nurses’ practice patterns in the area of spiritual care can be grouped into two categories including religious and nonreligious interventions. Religious interventions include treating patients’ religious beliefs without prejudice, providing them with opportunities for connecting with God and expressing their values and beliefs, helping them practice their religion, and referring them to clerical and religious leaders (O’Brien, et al., 2019). Nonreligious interventions include nurses’ presence for patients and their families, making direct eye contact when communicating with patients, sympathizing with patients and their families, listening to patients and their families attentively, and having love and enthusiasm for patients.

Although spiritual care is meant to help people, I frequently gain as a nurse. Interpersonal trust and a connection with the patient require high emotional intelligence. It’s important to realize that spirituality isn’t always theological care (Ross et al., 2018). Whereas the healthcare industry easily incorporates spirituality into therapy, spiritual care is essential in all sectors of operation. For the sake of our clients, we as caregivers must respect spiritual support, learn the required skills, and schedule time to satisfy these needs.


Bogue, D. W., & Hogan, M. (2020). Practicing dignity: An introduction to Christian values and decision making in Health Care. Retrieved from https://lc.gcumedia.com/phi413v/practicing-dignity-an-introduction-to-christian-values-and-decision-making-in-health-care/v1.1/#/chapter/1 

O’Brien, M., Kinloch, K., Groves, K., & Jack, B. (2019, August 9). Meeting patients’ spiritual needs during end of life care: A qualitative study of nurses’ and healthcare professionals’ perceptions of spiritual care training. Edge Hill University. Retrieved from https://research.edgehill.ac.uk/en/publications/meeting-patients-spiritual-needs-during-end-of-life-care-a-qualit-2 

Ross , L., McSherry, W., Giske, T., Van Leeuwen, R., Schep-Akkerman, A., Koslander, T., Hall, J., Ostergaard Steenfeldt , V., & Jarvis, P. (2018, August). Nursing and midwifery students’ perceptions of spirituality, spiritual care, and spiritual care competency: A prospective, Longitudinal, correlational European study. Nurse education today. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29763841/

People at a higher risk of getting an AAA include all men aged 66 or over and women aged 70 or over who have one or more of the following risk factors:

high blood pressure
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
high blood cholesterol
a family history of AAA
cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease or a history of stroke
they smoke or have previously smoked
Speak to a GP if you’re worried you may be at risk of an AAA. They may suggest having a scan and making healthy lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of an AAA.

Treatments for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
The recommended treatment for an AAA depends on how big it is.

Treatment is not always needed straight away if the risk of an AAA bursting is low.

Treatment for a:

small AAA (3cm to 4.4cm across) – ultrasound scans are recommended every year to check if it’s getting bigger; you’ll be advised about healthy lifestyle changes to help stop it growing
medium AAA (4.5cm to 5.4cm) – ultrasound scans are recommended every 3 months to check if it’s getting bigger; you’ll also be advised about healthy lifestyle changes
large AAA (5.5cm or more) – surgery to stop it getting bigger or bursting is usually recommended
Ask your doctor if you’re not sure what size your AAA is.

Reducing your risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
There are several things you can do to reduce your chances of getting an AAA or help stop one getting bigger.

These include:

stopping smoking – read stop smoking advice and find out about Smokefree, the NHS stop smoking service
eating healthily – eat a balanced diet and cut down on fatty food
exercising regularly – aim to do at least 150 minutes of exercise a week; read about how to get started with some common activities
maintaining a healthy weight – use the BMI healthy weight calculator to see if you need to lose weight, and find out how to lose weight safely
cutting down on alcohol – read tips on cutting down and general advice about alcohol
If you have a condition that increases your risk of an AAA, such as high blood pressure, your GP may also recommend taking tablets to treat this.

Screening for AAAs
In England, screening for AAAs is offered to men during the year they turn 65. This can help spot a swelling in the aorta early on, when it can be treated.

The test involves a quick and painless ultrasound scan to see how big your aorta is.

If you’re a man over 65 and you have not been screened, you can ask for a test by contacting your local AAA screening service directly.

Women aged 70 or other with underlying risk factors such as high blood pressure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may also benefit from an ultrasound scan. You will need to ask a GP for a referral as women are not currently routinely invited for scanning.