An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery caused by the force of blood pushing against a diseased or weakened artery wall. Most aneurysms occur in the aorta, the artery that carries blood from the heart to the body. The aorta travels through the chest and abdomen. If an aneurysm occurs in the chest, it is called a thoracic aortic aneurysm. If it occurs in the abdomen, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
As the size of the aneurysm increases, the danger of a rupture increases. If left untreated, it can burst and cause serious bleeding or death.
Your doctor may find an aortic aneurysm during a routine physical exam and refer you to a cardiothoracic or vascular surgeon for diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnostic tests may include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Treatment options include:
- Medications, including beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, to lower blood pressure and relax blood vessels
- Surgery to repair a vessel in danger of rupturing