Early symptoms of aortic aneurysm

The early symptoms of aortic aneurysm appear when an aneurysm - an enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta – quickly expands and ruptures. The symptoms also depend on the type of aneurysm and the exact area where it is located.

Type of aortic aneurysm




  • Throbbing in the abdomen near the navel.
  • Deep pain in the back or the side of the abdomen.
  • Pain in the buttocks, groin, or legs.
  • Constant, acute pain in the abdomen lasting hours or days.




  • Sudden pain in the jaw, neck, upper back, or chest.
  • Cough.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing.


Other symptoms include:

  • Clammy skin.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Shock.

What exactly causes an aneurysm is not known. One possible cause is the pressure of blood against the artery’s walls that have been damaged or injured. Other cited causes are emphysema, genetics, obesity, vasculitis, and high cholesterol. In rare cases, infections (including STIs) have been linked to aneurysms. The fact is that anyone can developed an aortic aneurysm, but men aged 60 or older are at an increased risk.

Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking.
  • Atherosclerosis.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Family history.
  • Hereditary conditions.

Unfortunately, aneurysms may slowly developed over a period of years and be asymptomatic. The larger the aneurysm grows, the more likely it is to rupture and cause life-threatening hemorrhage; hence the importance of early detection. The United States Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendation is that male smokers aged 65-75 have a single screening with an abdominal ultrasound. People over the age of 60 with a family history or other risks factors should discuss the possibility of a screening ultrasound with their primary care providers.

Other diagnostic tools are:

  • Echocardiography.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Angiogram.

Additionally, a doctor may find an aneurysm during a physical exam or procedure performed for reasons unrelated to the early signs of aortic aneurysm. Regardless, the sooner an aneurysm is found the smaller it will be and the easier to treat.

Aortic aneurysm treatment

  • Small (1.6 inches)

The doctor will most likely order ultrasounds every 6-12 months or so and ask the patient to report abdominal tenderness or back pain.

  • Medium (1.6-2.1 inches)

The benefits of waiting vs. surgery should be weighed against the risks by doctor and patient.

  • Large (over 2.2 inches), quick-growing (more than 0.19 inches in 6 months), or leaking

Surgery is often required at this stage; either open-abdominal surgery or endovascular surgery.


If a skilled surgeon repairs the aneurysm before it bursts, then the prognosis is very good. On the other hand, a ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency from which only about 20% of patients recover. The good news is that you can take action against an aneurysm. In fact, an active lifestyle is the best way to prevent this condition. Other preventive measures include the following:

  • Quitting smoking.
  • Eating a healthy diet (rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products; low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugar).
  • Decreasing stress.
  • Taking blood pressure or diabetes medications if and as prescribed by a doctor.

Related Read:

- Early symptoms of stroke

- What is an Aneurysm?

- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm