An aneurysm is a bulge similar to a balloon that silently forms in the wall of a blood vessel. An aneurysm can be caused by many factors including trauma, heredity factors or a disease that causes a weakening in the wall of the blood vessel. However, it is usually caused by atherosclerosis and is more common in people with a history of smoking and high blood pressure.

An aneurysm can occur anywhere in the body but is most commonly found in the abdominal aorta. Until recently, the most common treatment for an abdominal aortic aneurysm was major surgery. A new less-invasive procedure for repairing abdominal aortic aneurysms, known as an endovascular repair, uses an internal stent-graft (a fabric tube) to strengthen the blood vessel and can be performed without an abdominal incision. If left untreated, aneurysms can enlarge and rupture, causing a major medical emergency.

Most people have no symptoms of aneurysms and they are usually found during routine physical exams or when X-rays are performed. The best way to prevent an aneurysm is to keep your blood pressure under control, avoid smoking and have regular check-ups.