An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of the aorta. Aortic aneurysms can occur in several places along the aorta. If the aneurysm weakens to the point where either the internal layers of the aorta separate (dissecting aortic aneurysm) or the aorta actually bursts (ruptured aortic aneurysm), it is life-threatening emergency, and you should call 911.
The aorta is the largest artery in the human body and carries oxygenated blood to the body. This major blood vessel starts at the left ventricle of the heart, arches upward toward the lungs, then turns downward, traveling behind the heart and continuing into the abdomen.
The aorta has four distinct regions: ascending aorta, aortic arch, descending thoracic aorta, and abdominal aorta. In general, doctors classify an aortic aneurysm as either a thoracic aortic aneurysm or an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
From our preventative heart care services to reliable emergency treatment, Dignity Health Southern California can offer personalized care for a range of cardiovascular conditions. For expert care for aortic aneurysm at one of our convenient locations in Long Beach, Northridge, Downtown LA, Glendale, and San Bernardino, Find a Doctor today.
Causes of Aortic Aneurysms
Aortic aneurysms are caused by weaknesses in the artery wall. Over time, continued pressure on the vessel wall makes the weak area balloon out. There is no single cause of aneurysms.
Risk factors for aortic aneurysms include:
If you’re concerned that you may be at risk for aortic aneurysm, take our free heart health assessment.
Aortic Aneurysm Symptoms
Because aortic aneurysms develop slowly over time, most people do not have signs or symptoms. You may experience symptoms if you have a thoracic aortic aneurysm and it presses against adjacent anatomic structures in your chest. Abdominal aortic aneurysms rarely produce symptoms.
If the aneurysm ruptures or leaks, it is a medical emergency that requires immediate intervention. If this occurs, you may experience:
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Rapid pulse
- Clammy skin
- Feelings of doom
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Treatment & Prevention of Aortic Aneurysms at Dignity Health Southern California
Treatment and prevention of aortic aneurysms depends on the size and location of the arterial bulge. Our doctors monitor small, slowly growing abdominal aortic aneurysms and will recommend surgery for large or quickly growing aneurysms. Ruptured aortic aneurysms are life threatening and require immediate surgery.
Even people who are otherwise healthy can develop aortic aneurysms, making prevention difficult. However, you can reduce your risk of developing an aortic aneurysm by treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol and not smoking. Regular physical exams can help your doctor diagnose these conditions at an early stage before they become serious. See your doctor at Dignity Health Southern California for support in caring for your heart health and overall well-being.
Dignity Health is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art cardiovascular care with humankindness for patients with aortic aneurysm in Southern California.