What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakened and bulging area in the lower part of the aorta, the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body. The aorta runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen.

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Most commonly, people with abdominal aortic aneurysms are Caucasian, male, and older than 60, and have high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or a family history of aortic aneurysm. A history of cigarette smoking is also a strong risk factor for the development of abdominal aortic aneurysm. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are estimated to occur in 1.3% of men aged 45 to 54 years of age and 12.5% of men between 75 and 84 years of age in the United States (Source: CDC).

The signs and symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm may not be evident, and the course of disease varies among individuals. Some people with an abdominal aortic aneurysm have no symptoms at all. Others may have a pulsating feeling near the navel or may experience abdominal, chest or back pain. Fortunately, abdominal aortic aneurysms can be treated successfully with a range of options, such as lifestyle changes, high blood pressure management, or surgical repair.

Left untreated, an abdominal aortic aneurysm may lead to rupture of the aneurysm, which causes life-threatening bleeding. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of a ruptured abdominal aneurysm, such as severe abdominal, pelvic, or lower back pain, rapid heart rate, cold skin, or loss of consciousness. Seek prompt medical care if you develop symptoms such as a pulsating feeling near the navel, tenderness or pain in the abdomen or chest, or back pain.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

Abdominal aortic aneurysms develop slowly over many years. Many people have no symptoms, while others may experience a number of symptoms, which vary in intensity depending on the rate of growth and size of the aneurysm.... Read more about abdominal aortic aneurysmsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes abdominal aortic aneurysm?

An aortic aneurysm develops in the part of the aorta that is located within the abdomen. The disease can occur if the wall of the aorta becomes weakened by an accumulation of fatty deposits called plaque. Aneurysms may also be due to inherited diseases, such as Marfan’s syndrome, that affect the connective tissue of the body, including the walls of the aorta. In addition, tobacco use, high blood pressure, and infection of the aorta all play a role in the development of aneurysm in the abdominal aorta.... Read more about abdominal aortic aneurysmcauses

TREATMENTS

How is an abdominal aortic aneurysm treated?

Treatment of an abdominal aortic aneurysm begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, your health care provider will ask you to undergo specialized testing.... Read more about abdominal aortic aneurysmtreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation