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An aneurysm is an abnormal expansion or bulging of a portion of a blood vessel due to weakness in the wall of that blood vessel.
The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It starts at the top of the heart, passes over the heart in an arch, then travels down to the lower abdomen. Along the way, it has many branches that supply blood to vital organs, your arms and legs.
Several disease processes can weaken the wall of the aorta over time. These weakened areas can expand, resembling a balloon. This is known as an aortic aneurysm.
Aortic aneurysms can form in your chest (thoracic aortic aneurysm), in your abdomen (abdominal aortic aneurysm), or throughout the length of the aorta (thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm). As an aortic aneurysm grows larger and larger, the aorta can develop a tear partially (aortic dissection) or completely through the wall and blood can leak out (a rupture). This is a life-threatening condition and most often requires an emergency intervention or it can result in death.
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