Conditions We Treat: Aortic Aneurysm

An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal enlargement or bulging of the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body. Bulging can occur anywhere along the entire vessel, but it's most common in the abdominal aorta, where it's known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm. It also tends to occur in the upper body, where it's known as a thoracic aortic aneurysm.

Aortic aneurysms are dangerous because they have the potential to rupture. The aorta is such a large artery that rupture can be a life-threatening event.

Most aortic aneurysms occur in men over the age of 65.               

Causes

Causes of aortic aneurysms include:

  • Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
  • Genetics.
  • Aging.
  • Infections such as syphilis and endocarditis.
  • Injury.
  • Inflammation.

Symptoms

Some aortic aneurysms have no symptoms, but if they do, the most common tend to be chest pain and back pain. Some people also experience a strong pulse in the abdomen, a feeling of fullness after minimal food intake, difficulty while swallowing, nausea, and vomiting.

If an aortic aneurysm ruptures, symptoms will include light-headedness, confusion, weakness, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, sweating, and loss of consciousness.

Treatment

If an aortic aneurysm is small, slow-growing, and causing no symptoms, it might require only close monitoring. But if the aneurysm is larger, growing rapidly, or leaking, it will likely require surgery.