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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of an Aneurysm?

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of an Aneurysm?

The signs and symptoms of an aneurysm depend on its type, location, and whether it has ruptured or is interfering with other structures in the body. Aneurysms can develop and grow for years without causing any signs or symptoms. It is often not until an aneurysm ruptures or grows large enough to press on nearby parts of the body or block blood flow that it produces any signs or symptoms.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Most abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) develop slowly over years and have no signs or symptoms until (or if) they rupture. Sometimes, a doctor can feel a pulsating mass while examining a patient's abdomen. When symptoms are present, they can include:

  • Deep penetrating pain in your back or the side of your abdomen
  • Steady gnawing pain in your abdomen that lasts for hours or days at a time
  • Coldness, numbness, or tingling in your feet due to blocked blood flow in your legs

If an AAA ruptures, symptoms can include sudden, severe pain in your lower abdomen and back; nausea and vomiting; clammy, sweaty skin; lightheadedness; and a rapid heart rate when standing up. Internal bleeding from a ruptured AAA can send you into shock. Shock is a life-threatening condition in which the organs of the body do not get enough blood flow.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

A thoracic (chest) aortic aneurysm may have no symptoms until the aneurysm begins to leak or grow. Signs or symptoms may include:

  • Pain in your jaw, neck, upper back (or other part of your back), or chest
  • Coughing, hoarseness, or trouble breathing

Cerebral Aneurysm

If a cerebral (brain) aneurysm presses on nerves in your brain, it can cause signs and symptoms. These can include:

  • A droopy eyelid
  • Double vision or other changes in vision
  • Pain above or behind the eye
  • A dilated pupil
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the face or body

If a cerebral aneurysm ruptures, symptoms can include a sudden, severe headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, loss of consciousness, and signs of a stroke. Signs of a stroke are similar to those listed above for cerebral aneurysm, but they usually come on suddenly and are more severe. Any of these symptoms require immediate medical attention.

Peripheral Aneurysm

Signs and symptoms of peripheral aneurysm may include:

  • A pulsating lump that can be felt in your neck, arm, or leg
  • Leg or arm pain, or cramping with exercise
  • Painful sores on toes or fingers
  • Gangrene (tissue death) from severely blocked blood flow in your limbs

An aneurysm in the popliteal artery (behind the knee) can compress nerves and cause pain, weakness, and numbness in your knee and leg.

Blood clots can form in peripheral aneurysms. If a clot breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream, it can lodge in your arm, leg, or brain and block the artery. An aneurysm in your neck can block the artery to the brain and cause a stroke.

June 2008

This information has been provided by National Heart Lung and Blood Institute


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