An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery, usually the aorta. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) affects the segment of the aorta that runs through the abdomen.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm is common in older adults. There appears to be a genetic link because this type of aneurysm tends to run in families. People who smoke cigarettes are more likely to die from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm than non-smokers.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm usually occurs in people with atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries. As the arteries harden, the wall of the aorta is damaged and weakened. The pressure of the blood flow inside the aorta causes the weakened wall to bulge outward. High blood pressure also contributes to weakened aortic walls.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm may not cause any symptoms at first. When symptoms do occur, they include a pulsing sensation in the abdomen, and pain ranging from mild to severe. Pain may be located in the abdominal, back, or groin area. Sudden, excruciating pain in the lower abdomen and back pain usually indicates a ruptured aorta, which needs to be treated immediately.
Treatment depends upon the size of the aneurysm. The surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen, removes the aneurysm, and repairs it with a synthetic patch, called a graft. This type of surgery has a very high success rate. There is also another type of surgery called endovascular grafting, which involves inserting a thin tube called a catheter through a groin artery into the abdominal aorta. If a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm is not treated, it always results in death.
Varicose veins are generally benign. The cause of this condition is not known.
For many people, there are no symptoms and varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern. In some cases, they cause aching pain and discomfort or signal an underlying circulatory problem.
Treatment involves compression stockings, exercise, or procedures to close or remove the veins.