What are the symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)?

If you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA):

  • You may have no symptoms at all.
  • You may feel pain in the middle or lower part of the left side of your abdomen. This pain may come and go or be felt all the time.
  • You may feel pain in your lower back.
  • You or healthcare provider may feel a mass or lump that beats (like a heartbeat) in your abdomen.

Often, an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) doesn't cause any symptoms. In some cases, though, it can cause a pulsing sensation in the abdomen or pain in the abdomen, chest, or back. Even if it doesn't cause symptoms, an aortic aneurysm can be very dangerous, especially if it's large or it's growing. If it ruptures (bursts), it can cause bleeding. After an aorta ruptures, so much blood is lost that death can happen within minutes.

Symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) can include back, flank or abdominal pain, though oftentimes an AAA does not produce symptoms.

Abdominal aortic aneurysms almost never have any symptoms. In some cases, patients have reported symptoms such as chest or jaw pain, which are similar to symptoms of a heart attack. Other signs could be sudden stabbing, radiating pain, fainting, or difficulty breathing.

Dr. Joshua I. Greenberg, MD
Vascular Surgeon

Some patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) have no symptoms at all and the condition is discovered as a secondary result from testing. In this video, Joshua Greenberg, MD, of Mercy Health, explains that symptoms may occur after a rupture.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Everyone over the age of 65 should get an ultrasound of their abdomens to detect any abdominal aortic aneurysms, which sometimes don't present any symptoms at all.

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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.