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An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a dilatation in the abdominal (tummy) part of a major artery - the aorta. Aortic aneurysms are fairly common especially in older men.Hospital admission rates for aneurysms were increasing (Filipovic M et al, 2005) but recent studies indicate that the incidence of aneurysms may now be decreasing (Sandiford et al, 2011).We do not know exactly why some people develop aortic aneurysms.
They account for 1.4% of deaths in men over the age of 65 years and 0.5% of deaths in women.
Aortic aneurysms seem to be relatively rare in Asian populations.
The Maori population in New Zealand has a higher death rate from aneurysms (8.9 per 100,000 in Maori vs 3.7 per 100,000 in non-Maori) and require more emergency operations than the non-Maori population, despite a slightly lower age-adjusted admission rate (12 per 100,000 vs 15 per 100,000, Rosaak JI et al, 2003).
About10,000 people die in the UK from a ruptured aortic aneurysm each year (Sayers RD, 2002).
They are more common in brothers and there is an increased risk of an aortic aneurysm if you suffer from high blood pressure or atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) especially in smokers.