Aortic Aneurysm
Aortic Aneurysm

Aortic Aneurysm What Is Aortic Aneurysm?

Surgeon performing Cardiovascular Surgery Aortic aneurysms are balloon-like bulges that occur in the aorta, the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood to your body.

The aorta has thick walls that stand up to normal blood pressure. However, certain medical problems, genetic conditions, and trauma can damage or weaken these walls. The force of blood pushing against the weakened or injured walls can cause an aneurysm.

This health topic focuses on two types of aneurysms that affect the aorta: abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA). Both types are separate conditions with different risk factors and causes.

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm is the most common place for an aneurysm. The abdominal part of the aorta runs through the stomach area. It carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues and organs of the abdomen and lower limbs.
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm occurs in the chest portion of the aorta, above the diaphragm , and is less common.
Aortic aneurysms.
Aortic aneurysms. Figure A shows the thoracic and abdominal sections of a normal aorta. Figure B shows a thoracic aortic aneurysm. The one in this figure is located behind the heart. Figure C shows an abdominal aortic aneurysm. 

Aortic aneurysms can develop and grow before causing any symptoms. If the aortic aneurysm grows large, it can burst (rupture) or tear the wall of the artery (dissection), both of which can be life-threatening. Early diagnosis and treatment may slow the growth and prevent serious or life-threatening complications.

To screen for an aortic aneurysm, your provider may recommend an imaging study to look at and measure the aorta. Heart-healthy lifestyle changes can help prevent aortic aneurysms from developing or from growing larger.

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