The aorta is the largest artery in your body, and it carries oxygen-rich blood pumped
out of, or away from, your heart. Your aorta runs through your chest, (called the
thoracic aorta) and when it reaches your abdomen, it is called the abdominal aorta.
The abdominal aorta supplies blood to the lower part of the body. In the abdomen,
just below the navel, the aorta splits into two branches, called the iliac arteries,
which carry blood into each leg.
- An AAA occurs when the wall of the aorta progressively weakens and begins to bulge.
- It may continue to enlarge and eventually rupture if left untreated causing severe
internal bleeding and possibly death.
- More than 15,000 people die each year in the U.S. from rupture of an aortic aneurysm.
- Nearly 200,000 people are diagnosed with AAA annually.
- It is estimated that more than one million people are living with undiagnosed AAA
and at least 95 percent of these can be successfully treated if detected prior to
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a silent killer. Because they are difficult to detect
patients may be unaware that they are present. Screening of high-risk patients with
a simple ultrasound test can detect AAA. Once detected, AAA can be followed and
if it grows to a size where the risk of rupture increases, repair can be undertaken.
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