Image Credit: Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons. This image has been modified.

Aortic aneurysm prevention: Jeff Green and his aorta

Last week the Boston Celtics announced that forward Jeff Green will miss the 2012 season due to an aortic aneurysm, set to be operated on next month. Jeff is lucky. An estimated million other Americans have aortic aneurysms, but most don’t know it, and their first symptom may be their last.

In yesterday’s video-of-the-day, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: Ticking Time Balloons, I describe the development of the most common form of the condition, a ballooning of the thumb-width main artery that runs down through our trunk. Rupture is usually the first and only clinical manifestation, excruciating pain typically accompanying death within minutes as you bleed out into your abdominal cavity.

Older male smokers are at highest risk and should be screened with an abdominal ultrasound, but the majority of sufferers don’t fit the conventional mold. So in today’s video, How To Help Prevent Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms, I profile a study from Mount Sinai of no less than 3.1 million people that attempted to uncover what we could do—in addition to not smoking—to reduce our risk. They found that eating meat just 2 to 4 times a month appeared to significantly increase one’s risk, but the good news is that daily fruit and vegetable consumption may cut our odds of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm in half.

-Michael Greger, M.D.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

10 responses to “Aortic aneurysm prevention: Jeff Green and his aorta

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  1. Although your post is very informative regarding abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), Jeff Green has an ascending aortic aneurysm, eminating in the first part of the aorta is it exits the heart. A very differnt entity from a AAA, although just as dangerous. He will need open heart surgery with a prosthetic replacement of his ascending aorta and possibly a valve replacement. These generally are genetic, and have nothing to do with lifestyle.

    1. Oh the poor guy! I was going off the ESPN report, which suggested it was a AAA, but indeed aneurisms of the thoracic aorta are indeed an entirely different entity. I pray his surgery goes well.

  2. I’m sorry to say that Jeff just joined a growing community of people dealing with aortic aneurysms (I’m a recovered AAA case, with stent, continuing to do Ironman training at age 70). The good news is that he is not alone, and there are a number of people he could talk to, especially with respect to getting back on with his life, for instance, Jerry a marathoner post-surgery for ascending aortic dissection, Alan a golfer living with a 4.2 ascending AA, and Benjamin, author of Barefoot in November, survivor of an ascending AA. Great book. Jeff will need people to talk to and advisors beyond medical professionals. Wishing him all the luck with getting his life back on track, and hoping he will encourage all genetically linked family members to have a scan for aortic disease. Cheers, Kevin aka FitOldDog first in the world to complete an Ironman with an AAA stent graft

  3. I just want to say thank you. I am 17 and have found I have an enlarged aorta which I think is causing my anxiety. Planning on eating less meat and exercise more often. I already eat healthy

  4. How about Ascending Aortic Aneurysm? Did a search and didn’t any video on this topic. Went to see a cardiologist and he said the best way to prevent it from getting worse is to use beta blockers (to keep blood pressure low). Went on a plant based diet but bp is around 140s. Any studies on beta blockers for Ascending AA?

  5. I came across this pdf on the web while looking for a way to reverse my father’s AAA. Since it’s Lent now i’ve managed to get my dad and mum on a vegan diet. I’m supplementing with b12 but not epa/dha. I’d like to supplement but I’m not sure if it would hurt him more. Is it ok to supplement epa/dha? I’ve noticed that my father feels abdominal pain a few hours after a meal with turmeric in it. How often should I give turmeric to him? I’m limiting it to only a few times a week.

    Here’s the pdf:

    Where do I post so that the doctor can look at articles?

  6. I was reading a ct angiograph report from 6 mos ago. I noticed it said mildly dilated ascending thoracic aorta 3.8cm. My dr never said a word. Is this the hereditary one? Will my plant based eating help?

  7. Hello’ Like the rest I have an aortic root of 4.7cm, and the arch and ascending at 3.8cm. I have been taking, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon regularly for years. Am I helping or hurting my aneurism by doing this and are there any tricks to “deflate” the aneurism?

  8. Hi I’m a RN health support volunteer. I don’t think there is any research that would say these spices are dangerous in any way. Dr. Greger advocates the use of spices.

    The best thing is a whole food, plant based diet and avoidance of tobacco. It is imperative to keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control to prevent an aneurysm from worsening or rupturing. That is best done with a healthy diet, like Dr. Greger’s daily dozen:

    All the best,

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