Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

The aorta is the largest artery (blood vessel) in the body. It carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart. In the abdomen it is called the abdominal aorta. It supplies blood to the abdomen and lower part of the body down to the feet. The normal size of the aorta is about 1 inch (Approximately 2 centimeters) in diameter.

An aneurysm is a progressive weakening and ballooning of a blood vessel. Aneurysms commonly affect the abdominal aorta and, if undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to rupture and death. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million Americans already have an aortic aneurysm, of which only 20% have been diagnosed and a mere 3% are receiving treatment. High blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol are very common in these people. Once AAA's are present, they usually enlarge over time. The larger the aneurysm, the higher the likelihood it will burst. Once an aneurysm ruptures, internal bleeding is significant and often fatal. In fact, ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are the 15th leading cause of death in the US and the 10th leading cause of death in men over the age of 55.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Sudden back pain or abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Pulsating feeling in the abdomen near the navel
  • Sores or discoloration on toes