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. Thanks to improved testing, many are discovered and treated before they produce symptoms. If an AAA isn’t found and treated, it may eventually burst, causing internal bleeding. This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical treatment.