What is inside an aortic aneurysm?
The inside walls of aneurysms are often lined with a blood clot that forms because there is stagnant blood. The wall of an aneurysm is layered, like a piece of plywood.
Who is most likely to have an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
Abdominal aortic aneurysms tend to occur in white males over the age of 60. In the United States, these aneurysms occur in up to 3.0% of the population. Aneurysms start to form at about age 50 and peak at age 80. Women are less likely to have aneurysms than men and African Americans are less likely to have aneurysms than Caucasians.
There is a genetic component that predisposes one to developing an aneurysm; the prevalence in someone who has a first-degree relative with the condition can be as high as 25%.
Collagen vascular diseases that can weaken the tissues of the aortic walls are also associated with aortic aneurysms. These diseases include Marfan and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
What are risk factors for aortic aneurysms?
The risk factors for aortic aneurysm are the same as those for atherosclerotic heart disease, stoke, and peripheral artery disease and include:
- Cigarette smoking: This not only increases the risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm, but also increases the risk of aneurysm rupture. Aortic rupture is a life-threatening event where blood escapes the aorta and the patient can quickly bleed to death.
- High blood pressure
- Elevated blood cholesterol levels
- Diabetes mellitus The most common cause of aortic aneurysms is “hardening of the arteries” called arteriosclerosis. At a majority of aortic aneurysms are from arteriosclerosis. The arteriosclerosis can weaken the aortic wall and the increased pressure of the blood being pumped through the aorta causes weakness of the inner layer of the aortic wall.
- The aortic wall has three layers, the tunica adventitia, tunica media, and tunica intima. The layers add strength to the aorta as well as elasticity to tolerate changes in blood pressure. Chronically increased blood pressure causes the media layer to break down and leads to the continuous, slow dilation of the aorta.
- What is the most common cause of aortic aneurysms?
Smoking is a major cause of aortic aneurysm. Studies have shown that the rate of aortic aneurysm has fallen at the same rate as population smoking rates.
Know a aneurysm can be located in different arteries, like the brain with the same common causes, risk factors and make up inside the aneurysm.