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Symptoms of an Aneurysm

Topic Overview

It is normal to feel a throb at the site where you take a pulse to check your heart rate. As the heart forces blood through your body, you can feel a throbbing in the arteries wherever they come close to the skin surface, such as the wrist, neck, or upper arm.

An aneurysm is a bulging section in the wall of a blood vessel and causes a throbbing pulse where the blood vessel has become stretched out and thin. This area of the blood vessel bulges out, is weak, and may cause bleeding when it bursts or ruptures. Aneurysms most often affect the large artery in the chest and abdomen (aorta) and arteries that supply the brain, heart, and legs.

Although it is not unusual to have an aneurysm without other symptoms, common symptoms include:

  • Back pain or abdominal pain.
  • A pulsating lump in the abdomen.
  • A pulsating lump behind the knee or in the groin. The leg may turn pale and become swollen and blue.
  • Headache. Stroke may occur if an aneurysm in the brain bursts (ruptures).

Prompt evaluation and treatment can prevent an aneurysm from bursting. Death from loss of blood can occur quickly if an aneurysm bursts.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last RevisedDecember 27, 2012

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