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Diseases & Conditions

Screening savvy: You're likely at low risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm

June 01, 2013

A bulging abdominal aortic aneurysm can be deadly, but only certain men should be checked for it with ultrasound.

The aorta is the Amazon River of arteries. It rises from the heart to feed a multitude of lesser vessels that branch through the chest and abdomen. Over a lifetime, the portion that plunges downward toward the kidneys and legs—the abdominal aorta—can become weakened by disease in the vessel wall. Gradually it may bulge outward, forming an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). If the bulge ruptures like the wall of an old tire, the result is often fatal.

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