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What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)?

The abdominal aorta is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lower body. In part, the abdominal aorta feeds into the renal arteries, which supply blood to the kidneys.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a potentially serious medical condition that occurs when a section of the abdominal aorta begins to bulge. If an aneurysm is small it may not require treatment but only monitoring with ultrasound tests, which use sound waves to create images of the blood vessel and show the extent of the aneurysm. However, a large abdominal aortic aneurysm can rupture and is a medically serious event requiring emergency medical care. The survival rate for patients who experience a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm is less than 40 percent.

An artery is a blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body. An aneurysm is a weakened section of an artery—it bulges out like a balloon under the pressure of the blood flowing through it.

The aorta is your largest artery. It leaves your heart and travels through your chest and then down through your abdomen (belly) before splitting into smaller arteries that go to your legs. When an aneurysm happens in the section of the aorta that travels through your abdomen, it's called an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or AAA.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.