Overview-Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Definitions of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a bulge or swelling in the aorta, the main blood vessel that runs from the heart down through the chest and tummy.
An AAA can be dangerous if it is not spotted early on.
It can get bigger over time and could burst (rupture), causing life-threatening bleeding.
Men aged 65 and over are most at risk of AAAs. This is why men are invited for screening to check for an AAA when they’re 65.
Symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
AAAs do not usually cause any obvious symptoms and are often only picked up during screening or tests carried out for another reason.
Some people with an AAA have:
- a pulsing sensation in the tummy (like a heartbeat)
- tummy pain that does not go away
- lower back pain that does not go away
If an AAA bursts, it can cause:
- sudden, severe pain in the tummy or lower back
- sweaty, pale and clammy skin
- a fast heartbeat
- shortness of breath
- fainting or passing out
What is the most common cause of an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
The most common cause of aortic aneurysms is the “hardening of the arteries” called arteriosclerosis.
How common is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is uncommon in people under the age of 60. About one person in 1000 develops an AAA between the ages of 60 and 65, and this number continues to rise with age. Screening studies show that AAAs occur in 2 to 13 percent of men and 6 percent of women over the age of 65.