An abdominal aortic aneurysm primarily affects the end part of the aorta, which extends from the bottom of your breastbone to your bellybutton. This type of aneurysm continues to enlarge and may eventually rupture, causing bleeding or even death.
Although there are no specific causes of abdominal aortic aneurysms, there are a variety of factors which increase the risk of having a ballooned artery. They’re usually genetic, meaning that if someone in your family has had one, you are more likely to develop one, particularly if you’re male. Some patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms also develop aneurysms behind their knees (popliteal aneurysms). Factors that may play a role in the development of AAA include:
The main risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is rupture, where the wall weakens and blood leaks into the tissues behind the abdomen. This complication is fatal approximately 50% of the time. Therefore, it’s important to diagnose and treat aneurysms early to prevent rupture. Because abdominal aortic aneurysms don’t usually cause symptoms, they’re often diagnosed by chance while testing for other health problems.
If you have abdominal aortic aneurysm, it won’t go away unless it’s treated. Once the aneurysm has been diagnosed, a physician will continue to follow its progress until it becomes large enough for repair. Today, the majority of abdominal aortic aneurysm treatments are performed through the groin arteries using endovascular stent grafts. This minimally invasive AAA surgery usually just requires an overnight stay in the hospital. Occasionally, open surgical repairs with placement of a graft are necessary. Similar treatments/surgeries are needed for:
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