There is a large blood vessel in your abdominal area that carries blood from the heart to your abdomen, pelvis and legs. When this blood vessel (abdominal aorta) becomes weak and enlarges or pushes outward it creates an abdominal aortic aneurysm. If it becomes too large or starts to create symptoms, then you will need treatment to prevent it from rupturing and causing severe complications. While in many cases aneurysms can be present for years without any symptoms, there may be some signs that you and your doctor can look for.
During a physical examination your doctor will exam your abdomen. If you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, he may notice a mass near your stomach. Your abdomen may feel stiff or rigid, and there may be a rhythmic, pulsating sensation within the abdomen. This pulsation can feel similar to a heart beat. According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, "On rare occasions, your feet may develop pain, discoloration, or sores on the toes or feet because of material shed from the aneurysm."
In some cases you may feel a deep pain in the chest, abdomen or lower back, according to The Baylor College of Medicine. If this pain becomes severe a rupture may be about to occur. Another complication of an abdominal aneurysm is the risk of clots inside the aneurysm. These clots can cause blockages that can bring on severe pain or result in significant loss of blood supply to an area, which can lead to the loss of a limb.
Signs of a Rupture
According to the Mayo Clinic, if your abdominal aneurysm has ruptured you may experience back or abdominal pain. This pain often comes on suddenly and is quite severe. The pain may radiate to the groin, buttocks or legs. Your blood pressure may drop, your pulse may quicken and you can become short of breath and feel dizzy. You may also sweat, have clammy skin, feel nauseous, vomit, have a rapid heart rate and even go into shock.
Since an abdominal aortic aneurysm can exist for a long time without signs or symptoms, the only way to find out you have one is through an imaging test. This test may be performed if an aneurysm is suspected or you may be having the scan because of an unrelated health problem. The scan will show abnormalities in the abdominal aorta wall.