What Is an Aortic Aneurysm?

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An aortic aneurysm is an unusual bulge that develops in the wall of the aorta, states WebMD. The bulging can occur anywhere in the aorta, but it is more-prevalent in the belly area. This causes the section with an aneurysm to become weak and overstretched, increasing the possibility of bursting. Bursting of the aorta leads to severe bleeding that can cause death.

Conditions that lead to aortic aneurysms include hypertension, atherosclerosis, local injury to the artery, syphilis, aging and congenital abnormality, explains WebMD. These conditions result in a weak aortic wall, leading to bulging. Aneurysms that occur in the belly area are called abdominal aortic aneurysms, and those that occur in the chest area are known as thoracic aortic aneurysms, states Cleveland Clinic.

Most aortic aneurysms cause no symptoms, says The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Doctors usually detect the condition when carrying out tests for other medical conditions. However, symptoms tend to appear when the bulging presses against a nearby tissue or organ. Some symptoms include pain in the back, chest or jaw, cold, stroke, or abdominal pain. Treatment depends on a patient’s health and the location and size of an aneurysm. Doctors suggest surgery for aneurysms that are growing more than 1 centimeter per year.