Information for Patients
An aneurysm is a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death.
Most aneurysms are in the aorta, the main artery that runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen.
There are two types of aortic aneurysm:
- Thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the chest
- Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen
Most aneurysms are found during tests done for other reasons. Some people are at high risk for aneurysms. It is important for them to get screening, because aneurysms can develop and become large before causing any symptoms. Screening is recommended for people between the ages of 65 and 75 if they have a family history, or if they are men who have smoked. Doctors use imaging tests to find aneurysms. Medicines and surgery are the two main treatments.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute