Understanding the causes of an aneurysm could help patients avoid this dangerous and potentially fatal condition that affects millions of people in the United States each year. An aneurysm is an enlargement of an artery that is caused by weakness in the arterial wall, and it can present serious health risks if it ruptures. There are four different classifications of aneurysms based on the areas of the body in which they occur, including cerebral (brain), abdominal aortic (abdomen), thoracic aortic (chest) and peripheral (arteries other than the aorta not associated with the brain). Many aneurysms don’t produce any symptoms and go undetected.
Though aneurysms can sometimes be congenital (present since birth) or related to a birth defect, the most common aneurysm causes include:
- High blood pressure
- Hardening of the arteries
Additionally, there are genetic conditions that can lead to thoracic aortic aneurysms. These conditions include Marfan syndrome, Loeys-Dietz syndrome, Turner syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
No matter what the causes of an aneurysm are, there are treatment options available that can help avoid a rupture that would require emergency surgery. Many patients may be advised to make positive lifestyle changes while a physician monitors an aneurysm to ensure it doesn’t worsen. However, factors related to the patient and the size or location of an aneurysm may make surgery necessary. Surgical options include the insertion of a stent to strengthen the artery, or the removal of the aneurysm with a graft used to replace the affected section of the aorta.
At Tampa General Hospital’s Cardiovascular Center, our specialized physicians offer a full array of services for heart and vascular patients and can help diagnose the causes of an aneurysm and design a full treatment plan.