How to Help Prevent Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

How to Help Prevent Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
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What dietary behaviors may cut the odds of developing of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) in half?

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Researchers launched a study of more than three million people—by far the largest ever—to uncover what we can do, other than just not smoking, to reduce our risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm in the first place. In terms of diet, apparently the riskiest thing we can do is eat meat.

Eating meat just a few times a month appears to significantly increase our risk, which makes sense. Another name for atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries. That’s what all that cholesterol goop in our arteries can do—harden and stiffen the walls of our aorta, making it less pliable. And so instead of just bouncing right back after every heartbeat, our aorta is at risk for stretching, bit by bit over time, until eventually, we can end up with a balloon animal in our gut and then, sometimes, pop goes the weasel.

The most important thing, though: no smoking, which can dramatically increase our risk. Albert Einstein died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm—and he was a vegetarian. But he didn’t start eating healthy until late in his life, unfortunately, and he was a heavy smoker.

So, minimize both smoking and meat eating, and maximize fruit and vegetable consumption, and eat nuts every day—the two most powerful dietary behaviors found to reduce one’s risk. May cut our odds of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm in half.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by MaryAnn Allison.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Researchers launched a study of more than three million people—by far the largest ever—to uncover what we can do, other than just not smoking, to reduce our risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm in the first place. In terms of diet, apparently the riskiest thing we can do is eat meat.

Eating meat just a few times a month appears to significantly increase our risk, which makes sense. Another name for atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries. That’s what all that cholesterol goop in our arteries can do—harden and stiffen the walls of our aorta, making it less pliable. And so instead of just bouncing right back after every heartbeat, our aorta is at risk for stretching, bit by bit over time, until eventually, we can end up with a balloon animal in our gut and then, sometimes, pop goes the weasel.

The most important thing, though: no smoking, which can dramatically increase our risk. Albert Einstein died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm—and he was a vegetarian. But he didn’t start eating healthy until late in his life, unfortunately, and he was a heavy smoker.

So, minimize both smoking and meat eating, and maximize fruit and vegetable consumption, and eat nuts every day—the two most powerful dietary behaviors found to reduce one’s risk. May cut our odds of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm in half.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by MaryAnn Allison.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to CDC/Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr., Bionerd, Ferdinand Schmutzer via Wikimedia Commons, and Jacqui Wise.

Doctor's Note

Be sure to check out my first video on abdominal aortic aneurysms: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: Ticking Time Balloons.  

For additional context, check out my associated blog posts: Aortic aneurysm prevention: Jeff Green and his aorta, and Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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