What causes an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

What causes an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

Physicians and researchers are not quite sure what actually causes an AAA to form in some people. The leading thought is that the aneurysm may be caused by inflammation in the aorta, which may cause its wall to weaken or break down. Some researchers believe that this inflammation can be associated with atherosclerosis (also called hardening of the arteries) or risk factors that contribute to atherosclerosis, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and smoking. In atherosclerosis fatty deposits, called plaque, build up in an artery. Over time, this buildup causes the artery to narrow, stiffen and possibly weaken. Besides atherosclerosis, other factors that can increase your risk of AAA include:

  • Being a man older than 60 years
  • Having an immediate relative, such as a mother or brother, who has had AAA
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Smoking

Your risk of developing AAA increases as you age. AAA is more common in men than in women.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms2What tests will I need?

Abdominal aortic aneurysms that are not causing symptoms are most often found when a physician is performing an imaging test, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, for another condition. Sometimes our physician may feel a large pulsing mass in your abdomen on a routine physical examination. If our physician suspects that you may have AAA, he or she may recommend one of the following tests to confirm the suspicion:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)