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Aortic Aneurysm Causes and Prevention: Facts to Know

Aortic Aneurysm Causes and Prevention: Facts to Know

Aneurysms refer to the weakening of an artery that causes it to bulge and potentially rupture. Aortic aneurysms in particular refer to an aneurysm in the aorta, or the large artery in the heart. If these rupture, the aortic aneurysm causes serious health problems, or even death.

Aortic Aneurysm Causes

A number of things can cause an aortic aneurysm. Here are some of the possible causes:

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is by far the leading cause of aortic aneurysms. It’s responsible for an estimated 80% of cases.

It refers to a condition wherein the arteries start to harden as a result of cholesterol and fat buildup. This buildup happens slowly over time, so most patients with atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysms tend to be aged 65 and older.

In addition, having high blood pressure can also increase a person’s risk of atherosclerosis. It’s also not uncommon for patients with atherosclerosis to also have high blood pressure. Furthermore, having high blood pressure can also increase your risk of developing aortic aneurysms.

What happens in patients with atherosclerosis is that the structure of the affected arteries start to break down. This makes the structure weak and prone to having a bulge or aneurysm. Coupled with high blood pressure, this can cause the aneurysm to bulge even more and potentially rupture, which can lead to death if not treated immediately.

Genetics

Aortic aneurysms aren’t exclusive to the elderly. It’s possible for young people with certain genetic conditions to suffer from aneurysms as well.

In particular, people with Marfan syndrome, a condition that weakens the connective tissue in the body, are more prone to having aneurysms.

Other genetic conditions that can cause aortic aneurysms include Ehlers-Danlos, Loeys-Dietz and Turner syndromes. These conditions have a similar effect in that they weaken the connective tissue in the body, which can potentially cause aortic aneurysms. A family history of aortic aneurysm also increases the risk of developing the condition.

Preexisting medical conditions

Other medical conditions can also be a possible cause of aortic aneurysms. In particular, Takayasu arteritis and giant cell arteritis can put a person at risk of aortic aneurysms.

Takayatsu and giant cell arteritis are unique conditions that cause inflammation of the blood vessels. This inflammation can possibly weaken the aortic artery, and potentially lead to an aneurysm. People with these conditions should take preventive measures to lower their risk of aneurysms.

The Types of Aneurysm and Their Causes

Heart valve problems

It’s possible for people with heart valve problems to also have an increased risk of aortic aneurysms. In particular, people born with a bicuspid aortic valve (an aortic valve with just two flaps) have a higher risk of aortic aneurysms.

Traumatic injury

Lastly, traumatic injury, such as from a car crash or a particularly bad fall, can cause an aortic aneurysm. This is especially true if the patient had an injury in their abdomen, which can potentially weaken the aorta. Over time, the aorta can develop an aneurysm in the weakened part, which can potentially rupture.

aortic aneurysm causes

Can it be Prevented?

Preventing aortic aneurysms outright can be difficult, especially for patients with genetic or preexisting conditions. However, there are some things that people can do in order to lower their risk.

Here are some of those things:

Eat healthy foods and exercise

Having a healthy diet and engaging in at least 30 minutes of daily exercise can help lower aortic aneurysm risk. Focus on eating healthy fruits and vegetables, and try to lower your intake of meat, fatty foods, processed foods, and sugar.

Keep your weight down

Being obese or overweight is a risk factor for aortic aneurysms, atherosclerosis, and high blood. This means that by losing weight and keeping it off, you can significantly lower your risk of not just aortic aneurysms, but also cardiovascular problems in general.

Keep your blood pressure low

If you do already have high blood pressure, the best thing to do would be to keep it low and within a healthy range. If you’re taking medication, be sure to take it regularly and make positive lifestyle changes to improve your health.

Quitting smoking

Quitting smoking is also one of the best ways to lower the risk of aortic aneurysms. If you are a smoker, or if a friend or family member is, then it would be best to urge them to quit as soon as possible.

Get regular checkups

Getting regular checkups is also important, especially since aortic aneurysms usually don’t have any outward signs and symptoms. Doctors can check your overall health and prescribe treatment if necessary.

Learn more about Heart Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Aortic aneurysm – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/aortic-aneurysm/symptoms-causes/syc-20369472, Accessed January 7, 2021

Thoracic aortic aneurysm – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/thoracic-aortic-aneurysm/symptoms-causes/syc-20350188, Accessed January 7, 2021

Aortic Aneurysm | cdc.gov, https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/aortic_aneurysm.htm#:~:text=An%20aortic%20aneurysm%20is%20a,to%20leak%20in%20between%20them., Accessed January 7, 2021

Aortic Aneurysm Causes, Symptoms and Concerns | UW Health | Madison, WI, https://www.uwhealth.org/heart-cardiovascular/aortic-aneurysm-causes-symptoms-and-concerns/10971, Accessed January 7, 2021

Aortic Aneurysm: Symptoms & Treatment, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16742-aorta-aortic-aneurysm, Accessed January 7, 2021

Abdominal aortic aneurysm – NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm/, Accessed January 7, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 11
Medically reviewed by Mike-Kenneth Go Doratan, M.D.
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