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The Basics of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area of the lower portion of the aorta, a primary blood vessel that supplies blood throughout the entire body. Typically, the aorta is around the same level of thickness as your average garden hose and runs from the heart along the center of the chest and abdomen. As the leading supplier of blood, a ruptured aorta may cause life-threatening internal bleeding. If not detected early and treated appropriately, the situation could be fatal. Treatment, however, may vary. Depending on size and rate of growth, treatment may include watching or emergency surgery. Your doctor will determine the best course of action.

Symptoms

Typically, abdominal aortic aneurysms grow slowly and show little to no signs, making the condition difficult to detect. Some aneurysms may never rupture. Many begin small although they do expand over time if left untreated. Others, however, develop fast. Predicting the speed of growth is nearly impossible without the right tests.

As the aorta enlarges, some may notice:

  • A pulsing feeling by the navel
  • Deep, constant pain in the abdomen or side of the abdomen
  • Back pain

Causes

Although the exact cause of any abdominal aortic aneurysm is unknown, several factors may play a significant role, including:

  • Tobacco – Cigarette smoke or other forms of tobacco increase the risk of aortic aneurysms.
  • High blood pressure – High blood pressure increases the risk of an aneurysm as it may damage or altogether weaken the walls of the aorta.
  • Infection – Infection, such as bacterial or fungal, may on occasion cause abdominal aortic aneurysms. It is rare, though.
  • Heredity – In few cases, aneurysms may be hereditary.

Contact Us

To schedule a consultation appointment, contact Brookhaven Heart by calling 631-654-3278. If you suspect an aneurysm or experience any of the symptoms as mentioned above, give us a call today!