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Seminar July 17 on Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

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When the wall of a blood vessel weakens, a balloon-like dilation called an aneurysm sometimes develops. This happens most often in the abdominal aorta, an essential blood vessel that supplies blood to your legs.

Every year, 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). A ruptured AAA is the 15th leading cause of death in the country, and the 10th leading cause of death in men older than 55.

Aneurysms run in families. If a first-degree relative has had an AAA, you are 12 times more likely to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Of patients in treatment to repair an AAA, 15–25% have a first-degree relative with the same type of aneurysm.

AAA is so dangerous because symptoms may be absent. In most cases, abdominal aortic aneurysms cause no symptoms and are found when you are being evaluated for another medical condition. If you have a family history of AAA and feel sudden, severe pain in your abdomen or back, seek immediate care. These symptoms may signal that you have developed an AAA, possibly one in process of rupturing.

A small percentage of patients with AAA have these symptoms when plaque or blood clots from elsewhere in the body collect in the feet and toes.

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