The abdominal aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. It is the main artery stemming from the heart. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlargement in the lining of that blood vessel. As the lining gets weaker, primarily due to age and other risk factors, the vessel wall becomes thinner and expands.
Aneurysms develop slowly over many years and often have no warning signs. An aneurysm can rupture, producing catastrophic bleeding and results in a fatality 80% of the time. This makes a preventative HealthSmart abdominal aortic aneurysm screening a wise decision.
If an aneurysm expands rapidly, tears open, or blood leaks along the wall of the vessel, symptoms may develop suddenly.The symptoms of rupture include:
- Pulsating sensation in the abdomen
- Pain in the abdomen or back
- Abdominal rigidity
- Nausea and vomiting
- Clammy skin
- Rapid heart rate when rising to a standing position
- Abdominal mass
Controllable risk factors for an abdominal aortic aneurysm include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Uncontrollable risk factors for an abdominal aortic aneurysm include:
- Genetic factors
- Male gender (seen more frequently in males over 60)