NI AAA Screening Programme Office
Tel: 028 9063 1828

Is an AAA serious?

Small and medium AAAs

If your aorta is between 30–44mm wide, you have a small AAA. This is not serious but needs to be monitored to see if it grows.

If your aorta is between 45–54mm wide, you have a medium AAA. This could become serious if it continues to grow so it also needs to be monitored. Most AAAs grow very slowly so men with a small or medium AAA may never develop a large AAA.

If you have a small or medium AAA, you will be invited back for regular tests to check if it is getting bigger. The tests will be once every year for small AAAs and once every three months for medium AAAs.

You will also be offered an appointment with a nurse practitioner, who will give you advice on a healthier lifestyle, which may slow the growth of your AAA. This guidance will include:

  • eating healthy foods;
  • enjoying regular physical activity;
  • not smoking.

Your GP may give you pills or change your medication. They may also check your blood pressure. If your small or medium AAA develops into a large AAA, you will be referred to a vascular surgeon to discuss treatment options.

NHS Videos

These short films from the NAAASP explain what it means to have a normal, small or medium AAA detected through screening.

Large AAAs

If your aorta is 55mm or more wide, you have a large AAA, which is rare but can be very serious. As the wall of the aorta stretches, it becomes weaker and can burst. This is a ruptured AAA. If this happens, your chances of survival are only about 20%.

If your screening result shows you have a large AAA, you will be referred to a vascular surgeon who may recommend an operation. Your GP will also be informed. The vascular surgeon will talk to you about treatment options and any risks involved. They will also carry out more tests to find out if you are suitable for surgery and answer any questions you have.

Surgery is the most common treatment to repair large AAAs detected through screening. Approximately 97–98% of patients make a full recovery from AAA repair surgery.

NHS Video

This short film from the NAAASP explains what happens if you have a large AAA detected through screening.