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Calcified Abdominal Aorta, Say What?

written by: Veronica Sky • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 7/13/2011

Learn all about the causes and risk factors associated with a calcified abdominal aorta. Most importantly, read about the three main calcified abdominal aorta treatment methods.

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    What Is a Calcified Abdominal Aorta?

    So, what exactly is a calcified abdominal aorta? Calcification occurs when the main artery of the body, known as the aorta, hardens as it passes through the abdomen. Before we discuss what the calcified abdominal aorta treatment is, we will explain why this condition occurs.

    We’ve all heard about cholesterol and the negative effects it can have on our body. In this case, cholesterol is deposited in the artery. Atherosclerosis is the process by which damage to the artery wall leads to clogging of the artery. Calcification of the aorta is almost always associated with this condition.

    There are several factors which can cause this condition to occur. As you age, you are more likely you to suffer from a calcified abdominal aorta. Next is smoking, this habit greatly increases your risk of developing not only a calcified abdominal aorta but a host of other problems. High blood pressure can also cause atherosclerosis and in turn a calcified abdominal aorta. In addition, high cholesterol can lead to this problem. Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels is a great way to reduce your risk of having a calcified aorta. Lastly diabetes and genetic factors can be culprits in causing a calcified abdominal aorta.

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    Treatment: The Big Three

    Now that you know the whys, it is important to understand the what next? Other conditions such as, coronary, peripheral arterial disease or an abdominal aortic aneurysm can develop as a result of a calcified abdominal aorta. Calcified abdominal aorta treatment mainly consists of lowering your cholesterol. As we explained earlier, calcification of the aorta is almost always associated with atherosclerosis, thus lowering one’s cholesterol is key. There are three main ways of lowering your cholesterol: making lifestyle changes, taking medication or undergoing surgery.

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    Eat Right and Exercise Frequently

    According to the American Heart Association, changing your lifestyle is considered the first defense in treating calcification of the abdominal aorta. The first step is to begin eating a healthy diet. Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat proteins such as meat. Stay away from foods high in saturated fats and trans fat as well as red meat. Rather than deep-frying foods, poach, grill, or bake your food.

    The next step is to include exercise as part your daily routine. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of brisk physical activity five times per week. Exercise does not have to take place exclusively within the confines of a gym, try walking around the neighborhood, mowing your lawn, or dancing to your favorite tunes.

    Other important lifestyle changes include, stopping smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and managing diabetes if applicable.

    Making these lifestyle changes will reduce your risk for a whole host of other conditions including cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

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    Medications

    Medication is another calcified abdominal aorta treatment. There are many medications on the market made to treat the calcification of the abdominal aorta; talk to your doctor about what medication is best for you. By taking medications such as statins and fibrates, you will be lowering your cholesterol levels and thus reducing plaque buildup within your abdominal aorta. According to the Mayo Clinic, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, can all be used to slow calcification of the aorta.

    Aspirin is an over the counter option for reducing buildup within the aorta. Talk to your doctor about taking one aspirin per day in order to prevent calcification of the abdominal aorta.

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    Surgery: A Last Resort

    Surgery is the last option for calcified abdominal aorta treatment and is generally used for more severe cases of calcification. The first surgical method involves inserting a catheter into the narrow part of the abdominal aorta, and then a balloon is inflated. This causes the plaque within the aorta to be compressed against the aorta walls. The artery is kept open by keeping the tube in the artery. Another option is endovascular aneurysm repair which involves making an incision in one’s groin region and then inserting a stent-graft through the femoral artery.

    Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR). This surgery involves making an incision in your groin area and inserting a stent-graft via your femoral artery. The aneurysm is repaired or removed.

    There are many options for calcified abdominal aorta treatment depending on the severity of your condition. Start by making lifestyle changes, and then talk to your doctor about whether further treatment is necessary. Making lifestyle changes are the best form of treatment because by doing this not only will you be treating your calcified abdominal aorta, you will be reducing your risk for various other medical conditions.

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    References:

    americanheart.org: Atherosclerosis

    mayoclinic.com: High Cholesterol

    nhlbi.nih.gov: What Causes Atherosclerosis?