The aorta is one the largest arteries that helps deliver blood
to the body. When as an area of the aorta becomes weakened due to
infections, congenital disorders, high blood pressure or atherosclerosis (build
up of plaque and destruction of the artery walls), the artery wall stretches
outward like a balloon. This balloon is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm
(AAA) when it develops just below the kidneys. Though it can develop at any time
and affect anyone, it primarily affects men between 40 and 70 years of age. Most
of the time there are no symptoms with AAA; it is usually discovered during a
routine physical exam.
SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE:
• Pulsating mass in the abdomen.
• Firm abdomen that is
tender when touched.
• Pain (persistent, severe, and radiating to the lower
back, legs or groin).
• Nausea and vomiting.
• Sensation that something is
"tearing" in abdomen.
• Rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, and dizziness upon
• Pale skin, dry mouth, & extreme thirst.
• General body
• Confusion, difficulty concentrating, and fainting.
WHAT YOUR DOCTOR CAN DO:
• Perform a physical exam of the abdomen and order laboratory
• Order x-rays, an ultrasound, CT scan, and/or MRI of your
• Recommend "watchful waiting". Your doctor may try to lower your
blood pressure and monitor the size if the aneurysm is small and produces no
• Recommend surgery if the aneurysm is large, produces symptoms,
and is at risk of dissecting or rupturing.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
• See your doctor regularly to check your blood pressure and
• Take your blood pressure medicine as directed by your
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT: Possible complications if the aneurysm is not
• Ruptured or dissecting aortic aneurysm.
bleeding that will lead to shock.
• Kidney failure due to lack of blood
• Heart attack, stroke, or even death.
CALL 1061 OR SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL
ASSISTANCE if you develop severe abdominal or back pain, dizziness,
profuse sweating, chest pain, shortness of breath, or a "tearing" sensation in
Remember that a ruptured aneurysm is a life-threatening