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Aortic Aneurysm - Symptoms

Most people with aortic aneurysms, especially ones in the chest area (thoracic aortic aneurysms camera.gif), do not have symptoms. But symptoms may begin to occur if the aneurysm gets bigger and puts pressure on surrounding organs.

If an aortic aneurysm bursts, or ruptures, there is sudden, severe pain, an extreme drop in blood pressure, and signs of shock. Without immediate medical treatment, death occurs.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm

The most common symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm camera.gif include general abdominal (belly) pain or discomfort, which may come and go or be constant. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain in the chest, abdomen, lower back, or flank (over the kidneys), possibly spreading to the groin, buttocks, or legs. The pain may be deep, aching, gnawing, and/or throbbing, and may last for hours or days. It is generally not affected by movement, although certain positions may be more comfortable than others.
  • A pulsating sensation in the abdomen.
  • A "cold foot" or a black or blue painful toe, which can happen if an abdominal aortic aneurysm produces a blood clot that breaks off and blocks blood flow to the legs or feet.
  • Fever or weight loss, if it is an inflammatory aortic aneurysm.

Thoracic aortic aneurysm

Symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm are most evident when the aneurysm occurs where the aorta curves down (aortic arch camera.gif). They may include:

  • Chest pain, generally described as deep and aching or throbbing. This is the most frequent symptom.
  • Back pain.
  • A cough or shortness of breath if the aneurysm is in the area of the lungs.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Difficulty or pain while swallowing.

The symptoms of aortic aneurysm are similar to the symptoms of other problems that cause chest or belly pain such as coronary artery disease, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), and peptic ulcer disease.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 22, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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