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Signs and Symptoms

Most people with aortic aneurysms do not show signs or feel an aortic aneurysm. Usually, the aneurysms are found when exams or tests, such as a CT scan or echocardiogram, are done for other reasons.

For example, if a murmur is heard on exam, your health care professional may order an echocardiogram for the murmur and discover an ascending thoracic aortic aneurysm. Patients with an aortic aneurysm also may show signs of congestive heart failure.

In the rare cases people do report symptoms, the issues are often related to the aneurysm pushing against:

  • Windpipe (trachea) causing trouble breathing, wheezing coughing or recurrent pneumonia
  • Nerve to the vocal cord (laryngeal nerve) causing a hoarse voice Esophagus making it difficult to swallow

The symptoms may occur once in a while or stay constant. Belly, chest or back pain is less common but may indicate an emergency. The feared result is a tear in the aortic wall (dissection) or rupture, which can cause severe pain, internal bleeding and can lead quickly to death.

Other problems can occur when clots form because of the abnormal blood flow in the bulge of the aneurysm. These clots can break off and travel to the brain (causing a stroke) or to other organs in the belly, arms or legs.

  • Last Edited 08/30/2021