What is Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?

An aneurysm is the term used to describe an abnormal widening (ballooning) and weakening of a blood vessel. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the human body and is responsible for transporting blood from the heart to the body. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), is an aneurysm of the aorta in the abdominal region and is considered serious due to the size of the aorta. The exact cause is unknown, however risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, atherosclerosis (arterial hardening), obesity, family history of heart conditions, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle and/or direct trauma to the abdominal region. AAA’s typically grow slowly and are often asymptomatic, making them difficult to detect. Some AAA’s may stay small and never rupture, however some may grow quickly. A large aneurysm means a more compromised blood vessel with a higher possibility of rupture and is considered a medical emergency. As an AAA grows some possible symptoms include a pulsating feeling near the navel, deep pain within the abdomen and/or severe, constant low back pain.

Suspicion of a AAA requires immediate medical attention.

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