Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An aneurysm is a weak or damaged area in a blood vessel that swells or balloons. Aneurysms can affect virtually any artery in the body and often occur in the abdominal aorta. Although specific causes of abdominal aortic aneurysm are unknown, blood vessels can be damaged by aging, smoking, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), trauma, and blood vessel diseases such as vasculitis, a somewhat rare condition that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own blood vessels.

Risk factors

Risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysm include:

  • Family history of aneurysm
  • High blood pressure
  • History of aneurysms in other locations in the body
  • Risk increases with age from infancy onward (most common after age 65)
  • Male gender
  • Smoking


To detect an abdominal aortic aneurysm, we use tests, including:

Meet the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Team

Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is a nationally recognized destination for those who require highly specialized cardiovascular care.