Most aortic aneurysms occur in the part of your aorta that's in your abdomen. Although the exact cause of abdominal aortic aneurysms is unknown, a number of factors may play a role, including:

  • Tobacco use. Cigarette smoking and other forms of tobacco use appear to increase your risk of aortic aneurysms. In addition to the damaging effects that smoking causes directly to the arteries, smoking contributes to the buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries (atherosclerosis) and high blood pressure. Smoking can also cause your aneurysm to grow faster by further damaging your aorta.
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis occurs when fat and other substances build up on the lining of a blood vessel, increasing your risk of an aneurysm.
  • Infection in the aorta (vasculitis). In rare cases, abdominal aortic aneurysm may be caused by an infection or inflammation that weakens a section of the aortic wall.

Aneurysms can develop anywhere along the aorta, but when they occur in the upper part of the aorta, they are called thoracic aortic aneurysms. More commonly, aneurysms form in the lower part of your aorta and are called abdominal aortic aneurysms. These aneurysms may also be referred to as AAA or triple A.

Mar. 22, 2013

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