Aortic Aneurysm


Aneurysms are balloon-shaped bulges in your artery walls. They cause the walls to weaken and make them more likely to rupture. 

Aneurysms can form in any artery. But the two most common ones occur in the aorta – the largest artery in your body, which carries oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body.

Risk factors for aortic aneurysms include a family history, atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque in the arteries), smoking, high cholesterol and genetic conditions such as Marfan syndrome. 

Aortic aneurysms are the most common type of aneurysm – and the most dangerous – so it’s important to seek treatment right away.


In many cases, aortic aneurysms develop and enlarge without causing any symptoms. 

Symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm may include:

  • Coughing, hoarseness or difficulty breathing
  • Pain in your jaw, neck, upper back or chest
Symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm may include:

  • A pulsating, tender mass in the lower part of your abdomen
  • Pain in your back, abdomen or groin not relieved with pain medication or changing positions
Signs of an aortic aneurysm rupture may include:

  • Loss of consciousness or shock
  • Sudden, severe pain


Early diagnosis of an aortic aneurysm is critical. If you’re at risk for developing an aneurysm, you can benefit from early, routine screening with any of the following diagnostic tests:

Services & Treatment

Small aortic aneurysms that don’t have symptoms may not require treatment. Your doctor may recommend routine monitoring.

If an aortic aneurysm is large or causing symptoms, it will be treated with medications to lower your blood pressure, relax your blood vessels and reduce your risk of rupture.

If your condition requires additional treatment, you doctor may recommend:


Aurora Health Care established the Vascular Center at St Luke's Medical Center, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to diagnose and treat people with peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and related conditions such as aortic aneurysms. To contact the Vascular Center, please call 414-385-2429.

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