Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is the term for enlargement and weakening of a
portion of the abdominal aorta.
What is going on in the body?
The abdominal aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to internal
organs in the lower part of the body. Under certain conditions, a section of
the aorta may weaken and swell. If the aneurysm should burst, large amounts of
blood can be lost. This can quickly cause death. Blood can also leak in between
the layers of the aorta and block arteries leading from it. This can cause
serious damage to the organs supplied by those arteries.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
The most common cause of AAA is atherosclerosis. In this condition, a fatty
material builds up inside the aorta. This buildup causes inflammation and
weakens the affected blood vessel.
Other causes of abdominal aortic aneurysms include:
injury, such as a crush
injury from a motor vehicle accident
inherited conditions that cause weakened or abnormal blood vessel walls
infection carried in the bloodstream from other parts of the body
High blood pressure
increases the risk of AAA. More than half of those diagnosed with AAA have high
blood pressure. Cigarette
smoking also increases the risk of AAA and can make AAA worse. Chronic
coughing, such as the cough
from chronic obstructive pulmonary
diseases such as
emphysema, can make the aneurysm worse.
AAA is more common among Caucasian people. It affects men 4 times more often
than women. It occurs most often in people between ages 60 and 90.