An aortic aneurysm is a condition in which a part of the aorta is enlarged. The aorta is the main artery in the body, and it facilitates the transportation of oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body. The part of the aorta that is overstretched may become weaker and more susceptible to bursting, which can in turn lead to severe bleeding and possibly death. Aortic aneurysm can affect any part of the aorta. When it occurs in the belly area, it is called abdominal aortic aneurysm. When it affects the upper part of the body, it is called thoracic aortic aneurysm.
Causes of Aortic Aneurysm
The aorta has highly elastic walls that can stretch and shrink to accommodate changes in blood flow. However, certain conditions, such as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure, can cause the walls to become weaker and bulge outward. Natural wear and tear on the aortic walls over time also makes the aorta more susceptible to aneurysms. Some of the factors that can contribute to the development of aortic aneurysm are age, heredity, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, congenital defects, infections, injury, and smoking.
Symptoms of Aortic Aneurysm
Most people who suffer from aortic aneurysms do not experience any symptoms. However, doctors may find aneurysm symptoms when they are performing tests for other purposes. When symptoms do appear, they usually come in the form of pain and discomfort in the chest, belly, or back. If an aneurysm ruptures or bursts, it can kill in a matter of minutes or hours.
We will take a look at the diagnosis and treatment of aortic aneurysm in our next post.