Aortic Aneurysm: The Types, Risk Factors, and Common Causes

Female DoctorAn aortic aneurysm is a huge bulge, similar to a balloon, in your aorta, which is the main artery responsible for transporting blood from your heart through your torso and chest. It functions in two ways. One, through dissection, wherein the intensity of the pumping blood could separate your artery wall’s layers, allowing blood to seep between them. Two, through ruptures, wherein an aortic aneurysm could completely burst and cause interior bleeding.

These are the most common causes of deaths due to an aortic aneurysm:

Two Types of Aortic Aneurysms

An aortic aneurysm comes in two types: thoracic and abdominal. Thoracic aortic aneurysms happen in the chest and are typically due to a sudden injury or high blood pressure. In some instances, individuals with hereditary connective tissue disorders also develop this type of aneurysm. Warning signs of thoracic aortic aneurysm commonly include short of breath, sudden and sharp pain in the upper back or chest, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.

Abdominal aortic aneurysms, on the other hand, are more common and happen below the chest. They’re typically a result of hardened arteries or atherosclerosis, but could also be caused by an injury or infection. According to, this type of aortic aneurysm don’t normally display any warning signs, but when it does, it usually involves severe pain in the legs, groin, or buttocks as well as a deep or throbbing pain in the side or back.

Common Causes and Risk Factors

Aortic aneurysms are rare in young individuals, but some are inherently predisposed to developing it due to a history of aneurysms in the family. While others have a higher risk of developing an aneurysm due to a birth defect such as coarctation, in which a portion of the aorta is narrowed. Other common risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking.

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Although you couldn’t possibly alter your genetic predisposition to aortic aneurysms, you could significantly lower your risk by making healthy life choices. In addition, it’s strongly advised that men between the ages of 65 and 75, who are or were smokers, get regular screenings for the disease even if they haven’t experienced any symptoms.