What is aortic aneurysm?

Reading time: 2 min

Aortic aneurysm is dilatation or enlargement of the body’s main artery, the aorta. They can occur in any section of the aorta from its origin where it exits the heart down to its ending in the abdomen.

Aortic aneurysm explained in first person

Professionals and patients explain how you live with the disease
In most cases it is not necessary to operate immediately. If the aneurysm is of a considerable size, and we believe that the risk of the disease outweighs the risk of the procedures we can offer to correct it, then we have both surgical and endovascular procedures that can be done with very little risk, and with very good results. And we can expect a normal life and a normal quality of life.

Types of Aortic Aneurysm

Aortic aneurysms are classified according to their location:

Thoracic aortic aneurysm

Thoracic aortic aneurysms. These affect the aorta at some point between where it emerges from the heart (ascending aorta and aortic arch) to where it leaves the chest through the diaphragm (descending aorta).

Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Abdominal aortic aneurysms. This type are located at any point between where the aorta enters the abdominal cavity down to its final division into the two common iliac arteries at about the level of the navel. These are the most common class of aortic aneurysm.

Thoracic-abdominal aortic aneurysm

Thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms. These originate in the thoracic aorta but extend uninterrupted down to the abdominal aorta.

They can also be classified based on other characteristics such as:

Heart artery with an atheromatous plaque

Aetiology or cause. Atherosclerotic or degenerative aneurysms (the most frequent), mycotic aneurysms (secondary to an infectious process), post-traumatic aneurysms, among others.

Morphology of an aneurysm

Morphology. Fusiform (uniform dilatation of the wall of the aorta) or saccular aneurysms (dilatation of a specific section of the wall).

Capillaries, veins and arteries

Presence or absence of symptoms. Aortic aneurysms can be asymptomatic (most patients) or symptomatic.

Joint project with . This link opens in a new tab. What are Aortic Aneurysms? Reading time: 2 min Aortic aneurysms are dilatations or enlargements of the body’s main artery, the aorta. They can occur in any section of the aorta from its origin where it e

It is hard to calculate the true prevalence because most cases do not produce symptoms, but general estimates indicate that aortic aneurysms affect around 4–5% of men and 1–2% of women aged over 60.

Apart from old age and being male, the prevalence also increases in people who smoke, have high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease (a circulatory disease affecting the lower limbs) and people from Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. Aortic aneurysms also occur more frequently in patients with certain genetic disorders such as Marfan, Ehlers–Danlos, Loeys–Dietz and Turner syndromes, or those with a family history of aneurysmal diseases. 

Substantiated information by:

Eduardo Quintana Obrador
Xavier Yugueros

Published: 10 March 2020
Updated: 10 March 2020

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