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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm


An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an aneurysm located in the main blood vessel (the aorta) in your stomach area. An aneurysm occurs when a weakened part of a blood vessel expands like a balloon. The aorta is the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. With AAA, part of the aorta weakens and expands. If an aneurysm gets large enough, it may burst. This can be very serious, even life-threatening.

Symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An aneurysm usually causes no symptoms. If symptoms are present, a person experiencing an AAA may feel vague, constant or throbbing abdominal pain. 

Prevalence and Risk Factors

  • Male gender
  • Age 60+
  • History of smoking
  • Hyperlipidemia 
  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
  • Prior coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)

Diagnosing Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is often found when tests (such as an X-ray, MRI or CT scan) are done for an unrelated problem. Or your doctor may find it while feeling your stomach during a routine exam.  

Treatment for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm at St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute 

Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair may involve open surgery or an endovascular procedure to remove the aneurysm. Your doctor will weigh the chances that the aneurysm will burst against the risks of treatment. Because a small aneurysm is not likely to burst, it may be monitored for a while. If it reaches a certain size, your doctor may recommend treatment.

St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute provides access to skilled vascular specialists who work together to evaluate and treat patients with AAA. We also offer a number of preventative health programs and tools.