An abdominal aneurysm, also known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), is a bulge or swelling in the wall of the aorta, which is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An AAA occurs when a weakened section of the aortic wall balloons outward, creating a potentially life-threatening condition.
Abdominal aneurysms typically develop slowly over time and may not cause any symptoms until they become very large or rupture. Common risk factors for developing an AAA include smoking, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and a family history of the condition.
If an AAA ruptures, it can cause severe internal bleeding and is considered a medical emergency. Symptoms of a ruptured AAA may include sudden, severe abdominal or back pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate.
Abdominal aneurysms are typically diagnosed through imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI. Treatment options for an AAA will depend on its size, location, and whether or not it has ruptured. Small aneurysms may be monitored with regular imaging tests and managed with lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of rupture. Larger aneurysms may require surgical repair or endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR), which involves inserting a stent graft to reinforce the weakened section of the aortic wall.
Prevention of abdominal aneurysms involves managing risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure, and getting regular check-ups with a healthcare professional to monitor any potential issues. Early detection and treatment of an AAA can greatly improve the outcome and reduce the risk of serious complications.