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An aneurysm is a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death.
Most aneurysms are in the aorta, the main artery that runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen.
There are two types of aortic aneurysm:
- Thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the chest
- Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen
Most aneurysms are found during tests done for other reasons. Some people are at high risk for aneurysms. It is important for them to get screening, because aneurysms can develop and become large before causing any symptoms. Screening is recommended for people between the ages of 65 and 75 if they have a family history, or if they are men who have smoked. Doctors use imaging tests to find aneurysms. Medicines and surgery are the two main treatments.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- What Is an Aneurysm? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Abdominal Ultrasound (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Chest MRI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- Heart Health Tests: MedlinePlus Health Topic (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) - PDF
- What Causes a Pseudoaneurysm? Should a Pseudoaneurysm Always be Treated? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) (Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Aortic Dissection (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Talk to Your Doctor about Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)
- Genetics Home Reference: familial thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: Loeys-Dietz syndrome (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- Aortic Aneurysm Statistics (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Systematic review and meta-analysis of the risk of bowel ischemia...
- Article: A systematic review of short-term vs long-term effectiveness of one-time...
- Article: Controlled hypotension versus normotensive resuscitation strategy for people with ruptured...
- Aortic Aneurysm -- see more articles
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm -- see more articles
- Glossary (Vascular Cures)
Find an Expert
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair - open (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair - open - discharge (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Aortic aneurysm repair - endovascular (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Aortic aneurysm repair - endovascular- discharge (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Aortic dissection (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish