Preparing for surgery

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) open repair surgery

Your pre-assessment appointment

We see you in a pre-assessment clinic before you have open repair surgery. You have tests to check that you are well enough for the operation.

Our 'proactive care of the older person undergoing surgery' team see some people. They do medical and social checks.

We check your regular medicines and explain which ones you might need to stop taking for a short time before your operation. They might include: 

  • antiplatelet medicines that prevent blood clots (such as aspirin or clopidogrel)
  • medicines that thin the blood (such as warfarin)

If you take medicines for diabetes (such as metformin) or use insulin, you might need to change the amount (dose) near your operation.

Eating and drinking before surgery

We send you information about fasting before your operation. Fasting means that you cannot eat or drink anything (except water). This is usually for 6 hours before your operation.

We give you instructions if you need to fast, including when to start fasting. It is important to follow these instructions.

Take your regular medicines with a sip of water before 6am on the morning of your operation, unless we tell you otherwise.

Preparing for an open repair operation

There are ways that you can improve your health before your operation.

Stop smoking

Stopping smoking helps to protect your arteries. This means you are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

There is support to stop smoking. You can call the: 

Keep active 

Doing gentle exercise (such as walking and cycling) can help your fitness and protect your arteries. Exercising might be difficult if you have pain in your arms and legs when you walk, but it is important to keep active.

Take your blood pressure medicine

High blood pressure can increase the risks of surgery. If you have medicine for high blood pressure, it is important to take this and follow the instructions.

Managing diabetes

If you have diabetes, it is important that your blood sugar levels are well controlled.

Lower your cholesterol

It's important to lower your cholesterol (the fatty substance in your blood). You might be given medicine to help with this and low-dose aspirin to prevent blood clots. Your vascular nurse can refer you to a dietitian if needed.

Healthy weight and diet

There are more risks during surgery if you are overweight. Being a healthy weight and having a well-balanced diet help to lower these risks. Your GP can refer you to a dietitian if you need support.

Resource number: 2876/VER5
Last reviewed: July 2021
Next review date: July 2024

A list of sources is available on request.

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