Man in a business shirt experiencing chest pain

Aortic Aneurysm

What is an aortic aneurysm?

An aortic aneurysm is an outward bulge that forms in the aorta wall. The aorta is the body’s main artery and is responsible for transporting blood from the heart to the body.

There are two types of aortic aneurysm:

What is the difference between an aortic aneurysm, aortic dissection, and aortic rupture?

An aortic aneurysm occurs when a weakened area of the aorta wall begins to bulge outwards. This can increase the risk of aortic rupture, where blood bursts through all layers of the aorta wall and into the body cavity. An aortic dissection is where there is a tearing or separation of the layers of the aorta. An aortic dissection can also lead to aortic rupture, or other complications.

What are the symptoms of an aortic aneurysm?

Aortic aneurysms can produce no symptoms until they grow large and/or rupture (aortic rupture).

If symptoms are present, they may include:

What causes an aortic aneurysm?

Factors that can increase your risk of an aortic aneurysm include:

How is an aortic aneurysm diagnosed?

As an aortic aneurysm often causes no symptoms, particularly when the aneurysm is small, diagnosis may be made during a medical examination, a screening test, or when an aortic rupture occurs.

Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT or MRI scan can be used to diagnose an aortic aneurysm and monitor the size of the aneurysm.

How is aortic aneurysm treated?

Treatment for an aortic aneurysm will depend on the size of the aneurysm, the person’s age, and the likelihood of rupture.

Treatment options may include:

If an aortic rupture occurs this is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Signs of a rupture can include sudden intense pain and loss of consciousness.

How can aortic aneurysm be prevented?

The risk of developing an aortic aneurysm can be reduced by:

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years