An aortic aneurysm is a stretched and bulging section in the wall of the aorta, the large artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The weakened and bulging section may burst or rupture, causing life-threatening bleeding.
Aortic aneurysms are most commonly caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), but other causes include genetic conditions, infections, and injury.
Surgery is needed for large or fast-growing aneurysms or when symptoms such as pain are present. Smaller aneurysms are usually monitored routinely to see if they get bigger.
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