The ancient Greek word 'aneurysma' means a 'dilation' and this describes what happens when a section of a blood vessel bulges or balloons out. Aneurysms can occur in both arteries and veins but are much more common in arteries due to the higher blood pressure.
Further weakening to the wall of the arteries can be caused by injury or disease, or simply by the ageing process, and people over the age of 50 are more likely to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm (and men more than women). Other factors which increase the risk of developing an aneurysm include...
- A family history of developing aneurysms
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Connective tissue disorders
There are often no symptoms with an aneurysm and they are often diagnosed when going in for testing (such as ultrasound or CT scan) for something else. The major risk with all aneurysms is that they may rupture, and this is a serious medical emergency which requires immediate attention.
Two common forms of aneurysms are: