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Aorten Aneurysm
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Aortic aneurysm

From MayoClinic.com

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HEART & BLOOD

Cardiovascular System

An aortic aneurysm is the dilatation (widening or bulge) of a portion of the aorta, usually at a weak spot in the aortic wall. The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It carries all the blood that is pumped out of the heart and distributes it, via its many branches, to all the organs of the body. The aorta projects upwards from the heart in the chest and then arches downwards, traveling through the chest (the thoracic aorta) and into the abdomen (the abdominal aorta). The normal diameter of the abdominal aorta is about one inch.

An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery. It usually occurs when an artery wall becomes weak or damaged by the accumulation of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis is sometimes referred to as hardening of the arteries.

Aneurysms can form in any artery, anywhere in your body, including an artery in your brain (brain aneurysm). However, most aneurysms occur in the aorta - the body's largest artery. The aorta, which resembles a garden hose in thickness, runs from your heart down the center of your chest and abdomen, eventually splitting off into two arteries, one that serves each leg.

Although an aneurysm can develop anywhere along your aorta, most occur in the section running through your abdomen (abdominal aneurysms). The rest occur in the section that runs through your upper chest (thoracic aneurysms).

Signs and symptoms

Fortunately, not all aortic aneurysms reach the point of rupture. Many start small and stay small. Others slowly expand over time like a balloon that's slowly being over inflated, increasing little by little each year — typically 1/8 to 1/4 inch (about 3 to 6 millimeters). Some expand at faster rates.

Often, aortic aneurysms enlarge slowly and without symptoms, making them difficult to detect. However, as an aortic aneurysm enlarges, some people may notice a pulsating bulge in their abdomen or may feel back pain.

Aortic aneurysms can house small blood clots. If a blood clot breaks loose from the inside wall of an aneurysm and travels into your leg or foot, it can block blood flow and cause sudden pain.

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