If you have high blood pressure, you may be more likely to have an aneurysm, a condition that’s often fatal if an artery ruptures. Its symptoms are silent, so you could be at risk without even knowing it. Luckily, some aneurysms are preventable.
Healthy arteries have uniform, thick walls. But in some people, the artery walls may be damaged. If you have damaged arteries and your blood circulates more forcefully than normal because you have high blood pressure, the pressure can cause an aortic aneurysm. If the aneurysm grows, the high pressure can cause it to rupture.
How do you know if you’re at risk? Men get aortic aneurysms more often than women, and people older than 65 are at greater risk than younger people. Those with a family history of aneurysms are more likely to have the problem. Smoking is also a risk factor, albeit a preventable one. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting screened for aneurysm if you fall into any of these categories.
Aneurysms that are discovered through screening often can be treated with medication or surgery. Doctors prescribe drugs that lower blood pressure and relax the arteries, reducing the risk of a rupture. When surgery is needed, doctors replace or reinforce a damaged or weak section of artery.
It may be possible to prevent aortic aneurysms through lifestyle changes, if you’re at risk. Controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels; quitting smoking; eating a well-balanced, low-fat diet that’s low in salt; and getting regular exercise can help, as can taking any medications that your doctor has prescribed for you.