Agonizing Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Reviewed by Grace Juniaty, MD

Given its length, diameter and proximity, a ruptured aortic aneurysm with massive blood loss is catastrophic.

What is an Aneurysm?


Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to every organ. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the human body, ascending from the heart before bending to descend through the abdomen.

An aneurysm occurs when the pressure of blood passing through has forced a weakened part of the artery to balloon outward. An aneurysm’s walls can be thin enough to rupture. It can occur within an arm, a leg, or worst in the brain (leading to stroke).

Given its length, diameter and proximity, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) with massive blood loss is catas­trophic. As someone interested in cardiology, you recognize the magnitude of AAA.

With its mortality rate of 90 percent, this is the triple-A that keeps you off the road. Slowly growing without symptoms, AAA affects 5 to 9 percent of the popula­tion over 65 years of age (200,000 people annually in the U.S.), with a prevalence among smokers. AAA risk factors include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Atherosclerosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Aorta disease
  • Aorta infection
  • Trauma
  • Heredity
  • Another aneurysm

Symptoms and Treatments

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Though aneurysm is an asymptomatic disease, a doctor differentiates any symptoms that occur from kidney stones. A cardiology specialist sometimes finds the patient’s pain in the back, belly, side, or pulsating near the navel may be signs of an impend­ing rupture.

Haematuria (blood in the urine) is the most impor­tant clinical feature in AAA, followed by pain usually felt in the left flank that radiates to the groin. Renal dysfunc­tion (urinary failure) is reported in 85% of patients.

Signs and symptoms that your aortic aneurysm has ruptured can include:

  • Sudden, intense, and persistent abdominal or back pain, which can be described as a tearing sensation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse

If you or loved ones are experiencing any of these symptoms, immediately contact emergency services.

Depending on the size of the aneurysm and how fast it’s growing, AAA treatment varies from watchful waiting to emergency surgery. EVAR procedure has gained acceptance as an alter­na­tive to elective open repair of AAA in patients with suitable aneurysm anatomy. This promising tech­nique uses an endo­vascular balloon that is inserted through the femoral artery.

Guided by fluoro­scopy, it is positioned in the supra­coeliac aorta. After this procedure, patients can feel healthier and ready to do any activities within physician guidelines.

The Vascular System human anatomy poster illustrates the heart, aorta, blood vessels of the brain, and regional blood supplies. It is one of several in the cardiology collection. If you have been through this disease personally or provide care for someone who has AAA, your comments below are appreciated.

To support the writing of useful articles about cardiology, ClinicalPosters sells human anatomy charts, scientific posters and other products online. Slide extra posters into DeuPair Frames without removing from the wall or leave an encourag­ing comment to keep the work going. Visible content is optimized for device size.

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Updated: Sep 9, 2022

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