Aortic aneurysms can often be silent and asymptomatic, particularly in their early stages, which makes them especially dangerous as they may not be detected until they are either very large or rupture. However, when symptoms do occur, they vary depending on the location of the aneurysm in the aorta (thoracic or abdominal) and the extent of the aneurysm.

Symptoms of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms:

  • Chest Pain: Often described as deep, severe, and persistent, the pain may radiate to the back, neck, or jaw.
  • Back Pain: Occurs when the aneurysm presses against spinal structures.
  • Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing: Caused by pressure on the trachea or lung tissue.
  • Difficulty Swallowing: Occurs when the aneurysm compresses the esophagus.
  • Hoarseness: Can happen if the aneurysm affects the nerves leading to the vocal cords.
  • Cough: Persistent coughing may occur, sometimes with bloody sputum.
  • Swelling of the Face or Arms: If the aneurysm impedes blood flow out of the veins draining the head and arms.

Symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA):

  • Pulsating Feeling Near the Navel: Often described as feeling a heartbeat in the abdomen, especially noticeable when lying flat.
  • Deep, Constant Pain in the Abdomen or on the Side of the Abdomen: This pain can radiate to the lower back and may be mistaken for a back problem.
  • Tenderness or Pain in the Abdomen: Especially pronounced when the aneurysm is expanding.

Common Symptoms Indicative of a Rupture:

  • Intense, Sudden, and Persistent Abdominal or Back Pain: Pain from a ruptured aneurysm is extreme and can be accompanied by a sensation of tearing. It is a medical emergency.
  • Dizziness, Nausea, or Vomiting: May occur as a result of shock.
  • Rapid Heart Rate: Accompanied by low blood pressure.
  • Clammy, Sweaty Skin: Often seen in shock.
  • Fainting or Loss of Consciousness: Due to decreased blood flow and rapid blood loss.

Because of the potentially asymptomatic nature of aortic aneurysms and the severity of possible outcomes, screening is recommended for individuals at risk, particularly men aged 65 to 75 who have ever smoked. Early detection via imaging tests like ultrasound, CT scans, or MRIs can be lifesaving, allowing for monitoring and treatment before complications develop.

Categorized in:

Aortic Aneurysms, Cardiovascular,

Last Update: June 2, 2024