Symptoms of a Ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Symptoms of a Ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Symptoms of a Ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (Image:

The abdominal aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. It is located between your diaphragm and pelvis, where it divides into two smaller veins into the legs. An abdominal aneurysm occurs when the walls of the blood vessel become enlarged. This is usually caused by arteriosclerosis, or a hardening of the arteries. Arteriosclerosis can cause the walls of the abdominal aorta to weaken. Blood passing through the aorta causes the weakened area to become congested and inflated with blood. A ruptured abdominal aorta is a life-threatening emergency. Unfortunately, abdominal aortic aneurysms are silent in nature and produce few symptoms before they rupture. However, once the aneurysm has ruptured, there are four symptoms that may alert the patient and doctor that this has happened.


The first symptom of ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, AAA, is pain. The pain is located in the chest in the area of the diaphragm, and radiates to the back. The pain associated with ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm pulsates as the heart attempts to pump blood through the vessel. The patient may describe a ripping or tearing feeling in the abdomen.

Loss of Conciousness

Loss of consciousness is also an indication of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. The loss of consciousness is usually followed by pain, as described above--although it can occur suddenly and without warning.

Internal Bleeding

A person with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm is bleeding internally. Chills, shivering, fatigue and lightheadedness are the most common complaints associated with internal bleeding. In the case of a ruptured aortic aneurysm, the abdominal cavity can fill with blood and swell.


Sudden death is often the only symptom of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. An autopsy will confirm the diagnosis in this case.


Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms are treated immediately by surgery and blood transfusion. The surgery involves removing the ruptured portion of the aorta and suturing the healthy aorta back together. This operation is extremely delicate, and involves opening the entire abdomen from sternum to pelvic bone. The recovery process is long. According to the Merck Manual, the chances of surviving this operation are grim at 50 percent.

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