Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm


The aorta is the largest artery in your body. It carries oxygen-rich blood from your heart through your chest and abdomen. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when a balloon-shaped bulge forms in the lower part of your aorta, causing it to spread out and weaken.

Men are at an increased risk of developing an AAA. Other risk factors include atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque in the arteries), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and genetics.

Most AAAs develop over several years. They are usually found by accident when an ultrasound or CT scan of the abdomen is done for another reason. If an AAA isn’t found and treated, it can possibly burst, causing internal bleeding.  This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical treatment.


An abdominal aortic aneurysm may cause:

  • Back or side pain that can last a few days or develop suddenly
  • Steady, gnawing abdominal pain that lasts for hours or days

Symptoms of a rupture include:

  • A rapid heart rate upon standing
  • Clammy, sweaty skin
  • Constipation and urinary issues
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden, severe pain in your lower abdomen and/or back


Doctors often detect an aneurysm by chance during a routine physical exam or while performing tests for other reasons. However, if you’re at risk for developing an aneurysm or have related symptoms, your doctor may recommend any of the following:

Services & Treatment

Small aneurysms that don’t have symptoms may not require treatment other than careful monitoring.

If the aneurysm is large or causing symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure, relax your blood vessels and reduce the risk of rupture or dissection.

Your doctor may also recommend:

Why Aurora?

At Aurora’s Center for Marfan and Aortic Disorders, we help people with abdominal aortic aneurysms and related conditions lead healthy, active lives.

To learn more, please call the Center for Marfan and Aortic Disorders at 414-385-2400 or toll free at 855-229-2400.

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