AAA: Not just an Automobile Club, a Silent Killer

There is a silent killer among us. Known as Triple A, or AAA, abdominal aortic aneurysm is the third leading cause of death in men over age 60 and when AAA ruptures, it carries a 75-90% mortality rate.

AAA is an aneurysm (blood-filled bulge) occurring in the abdominal aorta, an artery located behind the belly near your back that carries blood to the lower part of the body. You don't feel it and, until it ruptures, you rarely have symptoms.

It is estimated that more than a million people are living with an undiagnosed AAA. Often found by accident during a screening for back or abdominal pain, Valley Medical Center’s Vascular Clinic surgeons repair these deadly bulges.

Multiple factors appear to play a role in the development of an AAA. Primary risk factors include:

  • age greater than 60
  • male*
  • family history (first degree relatives such as father or brother)
  • genetic factors
  • hyperlipidemia (elevated fats in the blood)
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • diabetes

* While only 2-3 percent of women appear to be affected by AAA, age, smoking, and heart disease are each associated with increased risk of AAA in women.

The most common symptom is severe or dull pain in the abdomen, sometimes including a pulsing sensation similar to a heartbeat, or pain in the chest, lower back or groin. The occurrence of pain is often associated with the imminent rupture of the aneurysm.

People who are at risk for AAA need to be screened with a simple non-invasive test known as an ultrasound or sonogram. If detected before rupture the vast majority can be treated successfully. With endovascular repair, the hospital stay is short (one day on average) and recovery is rapid.
The Vascular Surgery Clinic at Valley Medical Center provides comprehensive vascular surgical services to treat conditions such as AAA.

Meet our skilled surgeons:

Sherene Shalhub MD
Sherene Shalhub, MD
Vascular Surgery

Dr. Shalhub earned her MD from the University of South Florida and completed residency and fellowship at the University of Washington. Dr. Shalhub’s practice involves treatment of arterial and venous disease (open surgical wire and catheter-based). This includes open and endovascular treatment of aortic aneurysms, aortic dissections, carotid artery stenosis, visceral arterial disease, dialysis access, peripheral artery disease of the lower extremities, and management of congenital vascular malformations. Learn more >
Shahram Aarabi, MD
Vascular Surgery

Dr. Aarabi earned his MD at the New York University School of Medicine and conducted his residency at the University of Washington. Dr. Aarabi’s interests involve all aspects of vascular surgery, including carotid disease, lower extremity disease, dialysis access, venous disease, and aortic disease, including abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). Learn more