Types of Aneurysms

Abdominal aortic aneurysm

 Aortic aneurysm image

An aortic aneurysm is a weakened or bulging area on the wall of the aorta.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the large blood vessel (the aorta) that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs becomes abnormally large or balloons outward. This type of aneurysm is most often found in men over age 60 who have at least one or more risk factor, including emphysema, family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking.

The rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is a medical emergency, and only about 20 percent of patients survive. Call 911 and seek immediate medical attention if you have extreme pain in your belly or back that does not go away. Learn more about this type of aneurysm.

Cerebral Aneurysm

 cerebral aneurysm

Watch an animation of a cerebral aneurysm occurring during a hemorrhagic stroke.

Cerebral aneurysms, which affect about 5 percent of the population, occur when the wall of a blood vessel in the brain becomes weakened and bulges or balloons out. There are many types of aneurysms.

The most common, a "berry aneurysm," is more common in adults. It can range in size from a few millimeters to more than a centimeter. A family history of multiple berry aneurysms may increase your risk.

Conditions that injure or weaken the walls of the blood vessel, including atherosclerosis, trauma or infection, may also cause cerebral aneurysms. Other risk factors include medical conditions such as polycystic kidney disease, narrowing of the aorta and endocarditis.

Like other types of aneurysm, cerebral aneurysms may not have any symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Severe headache
  • Double vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Headaches
  • Eye pain
  • Neck pain
  • Stiff neck

A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency. Call 911 and seek immediate medical attention right away. Learn more about cerebral aneurysms.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

A thoracic aortic aneurysm is an abnormal bulging or ballooning of the portion of the aorta the passes through the chest. The most common cause is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Other risk factors include:

  • Aging
  • Genetic conditions, such as Marfan syndrome
  • Inflammation of the aorta
  • Injury from falls or other trauma
  • Syphilis

A patient with an aneurysm may not experience any symptoms until the aneurysm begins to “leak” blood into nearby tissue or expand.

Symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm may include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Swallowing problems
  • High-pitched breathing 
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Chest or upper back pain
  • Clammy skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sense of impending doom

A ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm is a medical emergency. Call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. Learn more about this type of aneurysm.

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