An aneurysm occurs when part of a blood vessel (artery) or cardiac chamber swells, – either the blood vessel is damaged, or there is a weakness in the wall of the blood vessel. As blood pressure builds up it balloons out at its weakest point. The swelling can be quite small or very large – when large it tends to extend along the blood vessel. As the aneurysm grows there is a greater risk of rupture – this can lead to severe hemorrhage, and other complications, including sudden death.
An aneurysm can occur in any part of the body. They tend to occur most commonly on the wall of the aorta – the large trunk artery that carries blood from the left ventricle of the heart to branch arteries. The aorta goes down through the chest and into the abdomen, where it divides into the iliac arteries.
What are some different types of aneurysms?
- Abdominal aneurysm— occurs in an artery in the abdomen (this is the most common type)
- Thoracic aneurysm— occurs in an artery in the chest area
- Peripheral aneurysm— occurs in the large arteries that run down the legs and behind the knees, and occasionally arms
- Cerebral aneurysm – occurs in an artery in the brain
Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur most frequently in people over age 60 and most commonly at a point in the aorta just below the level of the kidneys. Men are more commonly affected by aneurysms than women.
Our doctors treat patients with abdominal aortic, thoracic, and peripheral aneurysms. A cerebral aneurysm would be treated by a neurosurgeon.