Your arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from your heart to other parts of your body. The aorta, the largest artery in your body, runs from your heart, down through your chest, and into your abdomen (called the abdominal region). The abdominal region of the aorta is responsible for delivering blood to your legs, GI tract, and kidneys. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when the wall of the aorta progressively weakens and begins to bulge. An AAA may continue to enlarge and eventually rupture if left untreated, causing severe internal bleeding and possibly death.
In addition to concerns about rupture, clots or debris may also develop within an AAA. These substances can be carried to other areas in the body and block circulation, causing severe pain or possibly limb loss if blood flow is cut off for too long. AAA can safely be treated with early diagnosis. Nearly 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with AAA annually; approximately 15,000 die each year from a ruptured AAA.