Aortic aneurysm


Aortic aneurysm is a bulging at the wall of the aorta. Aorta is responsible carrying blood from the heart to the body. Aortic aneurysms can develop anywhere in the aorta and can either be round (saccular) or tube-shaped (fusiform).

A weakening in the aorta’s wall leads to the development of an aortic aneurysm. A balloon-like bulge forms in the weak spot of the aorta due to the pressure of blood circulating through the artery. A tear in the inner layer of the aorta’s wall (aortic dissection) is more likely to occur if there is an aortic aneurysm. They may split or rupture, which could result in internal bleeding which could be fatal or obstruct the flow of blood from the heart to other organs.

Different types of aortic aneurysms include:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm: develop in the section of the aorta that travels through the abdomen.
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm: develop in the section of the aorta that travels through the chest cavity.

In some cases, there are patient who develop both types of aortic aneurysms.


Many people with aortic aneurysm are unaware of the disease, and it commonly go unnoticed until it ruptures (bursts). When the aneurysm ruptures, it is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

The following are examples of sudden signs and symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm:

  • Continuous strong chest pain
  • Abdominal or back pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fast heartbeat.

Early discovery of aortic aneurysm before it ruptures increases the chance of survival. Patient may experience signs of a growing aortic aneurysm, such as:

  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulty.
  • Swallowing difficulty (dysphagia).
  • Pain at the neck, back, chest or abdomen.
  • Swelling of arms, neck or face.


Aortic aneurysms can be caused by the following:

  • Atherosclerosis.
  • Inflamed arteries.
  • Hereditary such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
  • Injury from a trauma.
  • Infections, such as syphilis.

Risk factors

Chances of having an aortic aneurysm can depend on both the family history and lifestyle. The most common risk factors for aortic aneurysms include:

  • Age: Over 65 years old
  • Gender: Common among men
  • Family history: If member of the family have history of aortic aneurysms.
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking