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When You Visit Your Doctor - Aortic Aneurysm
Questions to Discuss with Your Doctor:
- What tests have been done to measure the size of your aneurysm?
- How large is it?
- Has it increased in size?
- Do you have pain in your abdomen or back?
- How long have you had this pain?
- What brings it on?
- How long does it last?
- Are you doing everything possible to address the risk factors that can worsen this disease (smoking cessation, treating elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, and controlling diabetes)?
- What medications are you taking to control your risk factors?
- Are you taking them regularly?
- Are you having side effects?
- Should you be taking a daily aspirin?
- Do you have any other medical problems?
- Have you had a stroke or heart attack? These are important in determining your risk of surgery to repair the aneurysm.
- Do you know when you should be referred to a vascular surgeon? (Be sure to ask how often the surgeon performs this operation).
- Do you get chest pain or pressure with exertion or at rest? If so, you may have coronary artery disease.
- Do you have sudden brief episodes of blindness (like a shade being pulled over your eyes) or sudden episodes of weakness in an arm or leg, or difficulty speaking? These could be warning symptoms of stroke.
- Do you get short of breath when you lie down or exert yourself?
- Do you awaken in the middle of the night short-of-breath?
- Do your ankles swell? If so, you may have congestive heart failure.
- Do you get pain in your leg muscles when you walk? If so, you may have peripheral vascular disease.
Your Doctor Might Examine the Following Body Structures or Functions:
- Heart rate, blood pressure, weight
- Abdomen (palpate the aneurysm to assess the size and tenderness of the aneurysm)
- Neck and limb arteries (for abnormal noises and strength of the arterial pulsation)
- Heart and lungs
Your Doctor Might Order the Following Lab Tests or Studies:
- Blood tests to evaluate your kidney function
- Abdominal ultrasound to assess the size and location of the aneurysm
- Abdominal CT scan to evaluate the size and location of the aneurysm
- MRI to evaluate the size and location of the aneurysm
- Angiography to evaluate the size and location of the aneurysm
- If surgery is planned, your doctor may want to evaluate you for the presence of coronary disease. This preoperative assessment may involve an electrocardiogram, an exercise stress test or an echocardiogram.