The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the human body. It originates from the left ventricle of the heart and extends down to the abdomen, where it splits into two smaller arteries. Several arteries extend from the aorta to deliver blood to various regions of the body.
Some medical problems may weaken the artery walls, which can result in the aortic wall bulging outward. This is called “aortic aneurysm”. In the worst case scenario, an aneurysm can burst or rupture. This causes bleeding and often leads to death within minutes to hours.
Usually the wall of the aorta is very elastic and can stretch and shrink back as needed in order to adapt to the blood flow. However, some medical problems, such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), weaken the artery walls. These problems, along with the wear and tear that naturally occurs with aging, can result in a weak aortic wall that bulges outward.
Aortic aneurysm is more common in elderly men. The risk is increased in patients who have coronary artery disease or peripheral vessel disease. In addition, a family history of aortic aneurysm and tobacco use are risk factors for the development of an aortic aneurysm. Aortic aneurysm can be detected by an ultrasonography.
As noted, the risk factors include old age (men aged between 65-75 years), smoking, hypertension and a family history of aortic aneurysm.
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