The aorta is one the largest arteries that helps deliver blood to the body. When an area of the aorta becomes weakened due to infections, congenital disorders, high blood pressure or atherosclerosis (build up of plaque and destruction of the artery walls), the artery wall stretches outward like a balloon. This balloon is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) when it develops just below the kidneys. Though it can develop at any time and affect anyone, it primarily affects men between 40 and 70 years of age. Most of the time there are no symptoms with AAA; it is usually discovered during a routine physical exam.


• Pulsating mass in the abdomen.
• Firm abdomen that is tender when touched.
• Pain (persistent, severe, and radiating to the lower back, legs or groin).
• Nausea and vomiting.
• Sensation that something is "tearing" in abdomen.
• Rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, and dizziness upon arising.
• Pale skin, dry mouth, & extreme thirst.
• General body weakness.
• Confusion, difficulty concentrating, and fainting.


• Perform a physical exam of the abdomen and order laboratory blood work.
• Order x-rays, an ultrasound, CT scan, and/or MRI of your abdomen.
• Recommend "watchful waiting". Your doctor may try to lower your blood pressure and monitor the size if the aneurysm is small and produces no symptoms.
• Recommend surgery if the aneurysm is large, produces symptoms, and is at risk of dissecting or rupturing.


• See your doctor regularly to check your blood pressure and aneurysm size.
• Take your blood pressure medicine as directed by your doctor.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT: Possible complications if the aneurysm is not monitored include:
• Ruptured or dissecting aortic aneurysm.
• Internal bleeding that will lead to shock.
• Kidney failure due to lack of blood circulation.
• Heart attack, stroke, or even death.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ASSISTANCE if you develop severe abdominal or back pain, dizziness, profuse sweating, chest pain, shortness of breath, or a "tearing" sensation in the abdomen!
Remember that a ruptured aneurysm is a life-threatening event!

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