(AAA; Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm; Aneurysm, Abdominal Aortic; Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm; Aneurysm, Thoracic Aortic)
DefinitionThe aorta is the body's largest artery. It carries blood from the heart and delivers it to the rest of the body. The aorta travels through the chest and the abdomen. An aortic aneurysm is a weak, bulging area in the wall of the aorta. The bulging develops from a weakness or defect in the aortic wall. It tends to get bigger with time.The greatest danger is that an aneurysm will rupture. This will cause heavy, uncontrollable bleeding. Aortic aneurysms can also occur with aortic dissection. Dissection is a small tear in the aortic wall. Blood from the aneurysm can leak through this tear and spread between the layers of the aortic wall. This leads to eventual rupture of the vessel.Aneurysms can develop anywhere. They are most common in the aorta, iliac artery, and femoral artery.
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CausesAtherosclerosis is frequently associated with aneurysm. However, it is not thought that this disease alone causes the growth of an aneurysm. It is believed that other factors, such as high blood pressure or connective tissue disorders, must be present for an aneurysm to form.
Risk FactorsAortic aneurysms are more common in adults over 60 years of age. Factors that increase your chance of getting an aortic aneurysm include:
- High blood pressure
- Arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis
- Inherited connective tissue defects such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome )
- Polyarteritis nodosa
- Bacterial endocarditis
- History of heart attack
- Family members with aneurysms, particularly male children of an affected mother
- Infectious aortitis
- Great vessel arteritis, also known as Takayasu’s disease
- Injury to the aorta, from either a motor vehicle accident or a stab wound
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