So exactly what is an aortic aneurysm? There is an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery. These walls are usually thick and muscular but when there is an area that weakens in that artery wall, it decreases the chance of handling a large amount of pressure. This allows the pressure to push outward in the artery creating a bulge or a balloon — an aneurysm. Because the artery walls are thin and fragile when weakened, they can rupture and cause someone to die within minutes.
There are 2 types of aortic aneurysms. The least common type is called the thoracic aortic aneurysm. The bulge occurs in the part that passes through the chest cavity. The second type is called the abdominal aortic aneurysm and it occurs when it passes through the middle to low abdomen.
What causes aneurysms?
- local injury to an artery
- congenital abnormality
Signs and Symptoms?
- tearing pain in the chest, abdomen or middle of the back in between the shoulder blades
- thoracic aneurysms may cause shortness of breath, hoarseness, cough or difficulty swallowing
- ruptured aneurysm may cause loss of consciousness, stroke, shock or a heart attack
Small aortic aneurysms with no symptoms are usually monitored to make sure that they are not getting bigger and which point, they are at a higher risk of rupturing. A larger aneurysm can be repaired by removing that part of the artery and repairing it with a graft of artificial material.
It is important that if you have any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, that you seek medical attention immediately.