What is an Aneurysm?

What is an Aneurysm?

An aneurysm is defined as a balloon-like bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. The most common and most dangerous type of aneurysm is an aortic aneurysm. The aorta is the largest artery of the body, and it supplies blood to all the major organs as it arises from the heart. Aneurysms are silent and, in most cases, diagnosed once their complications have occurred. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 9,923 deaths occurred due to aortic aneurysms in the United States in 2018. 

Common Types of Aneurysms

An aneurysm can develop in any blood vessel in any part of the body. Some of the commonly involved blood vessels include the aorta (the main artery arising from the heart), femoral arteries (present in the thighs), splenic artery (present near the spleen), popliteal arteries (present behind the knees), and blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. However, aortic aneurysms are the most common. The types of aortic aneurysms are as follows.

  • A thoracic aortic aneurysm occurs in the part of the aorta present in the chest.
  • An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs in the abdominal aorta.

Risk Factors for Developing an Aneurysm

Several risk factors can increase your chances of developing an aneurysm, including:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure 
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Atherosclerosis (a condition in which a plaque is built in the wall of the blood vessel). It causes the hardening of the blood vessels and raises the risk of an aneurysm
  • Some genetic conditions, such as Marfan’s syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Family history 

Why is an Aneurysm Dangerous?

The consequences of an aneurysm can be life-threatening. 

  • An aneurysm can rupture, leading to severe bleeding and even death. Other complications include coma, hydrocephalus, and brain damage. This is most common in the case of abdominal aortic aneurysm.
  • The force of blood pressure can split the ballooned walls of the vessel. The blood can leak within the split layers. This type is most common in thoracic aortic aneurysms.
  • Other types of aneurysms usually do not undergo rupture or dissection. However, a blood clot can form at the point of ballooning that can block blood flow. It can break off from its point of origin and block blood vessels. It can also lead to stroke.

Always speak to your doctor if you are concerned about health conditions.

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