An aortic aneurysm
is a weakened and bulging area in the aorta
, the major blood vessel that feeds blood to the body. The aorta, about the thickness of a garden hose, runs through the center of your body. Because the aorta is the body's predominant supplier of blood, a ruptured aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding. Although you may never have symptoms, finding out you have an aortic aneurysm can be more than unsettling. Each year, approximately 15,000 people die of an abdominal aortic aneurysm in the United States.
Most aneurysms are small and slow growing and rarely rupture. Less commonly, aneurysms are larger and faster growing and are at higher risk of rupturing. Depending on the size and rate at which it is growing, treatment for aortic aneurysm may vary from watchful waiting to emergency surgery. Once an aortic aneurysm is identified, doctors will closely monitor it so that surgery can be planned if and when necessary. Emergency surgery for a ruptured aneurysm
carries increased risk and less chance of survival.