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Signs and Symptoms

Most Aneurysms Have No Symptoms

Most aneurysms do not have symptoms; they may go unnoticed and undiagnosed for years. In many cases, they are detected during a routine physical exam. Your doctor may feel a pulsating mass in your abdomen or hear abnormal blood flow when listening with a stethoscope. More often, an aneurysm is found by chance during a test -- an x-ray, ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan -- ordered for some other reason, including chest pain, back pains and abdominal pains.

Common Aneurysm Symptoms

As aneurysms grow, you may notice symptoms. The most common include:

  • A pulsing feeling in your abdomen, similar to a heartbeat. Your physician may be the first to notice this during a physical exam.
  • Vague pains in your abdomen, pelvis or sides that last for hours or days at a time.
  • A severe, sudden pain in your abdomen, lower back or groin. This pain may be prolonged and may be unable to be relieved by changing positions or by pain medication.

Symptoms of Aneurysm Rupture

Once an aneurysm bursts or ruptures, it usually produces:

  • Sudden, severe pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Clammy, sweaty skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heart rate

Rupture Requires Emergency Care

The pain from a ruptured AAA can sometimes be confused with the pain from a kidney stone. Those whose aneurysms have burst often suffer a loss of consciousness or shock, depending on the location of the aneurysm and the amount of internal bleeding. A ruptured aneurysm requires emergency care. Call 911 immediately if you experience these symptoms.

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-8800

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