Aortic Aneurysm Overview
An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal enlargement or bulging of the aorta, which is the largest blood vessel in the body and the main artery from the heart. An aneurysm occurs when a portion of the vessel becomes weakened and expands. The pressure of the blood flow through the vessel creates a bulge in the weak area, beginning small and growing as the pressure continues. Aneurysms pose a risk of rupturing and causing internal bleeding.
There are two types of aortic aneurysms:
- Thoracic aortic aneurysms – occurring in the aorta located in the upper part of the chest
- Abdominal aortic aneurysms – occurring in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen
Some people are at a higher risk for aneurysms. Because aneurysms can develop and grow before causing any symptoms, screening is recommended for people between age 65 and 75 who have a family history of aneurysms or those who have smoked.