JOHN DAUGHERTY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN DAUGHERTY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ruptured aneurysm. Illustration of a rupturing aneurysm of the aorta. Aneurysm is an abnormal widening (dilatation) of a vein or artery. In this case it has occurred in the aorta, the major artery leading from the heart. Because the wall of the artery is weakened, it can eventually rupture, causing life-threatening bleeding. Risk factors for aneurysm include atherosclerosis (build up of fatty deposits in the artery wall leading to thickening and loss of elasticity) and high blood pressure. Aneurysm may be treated by replacing the affected part of the blood vessel with an artificial graft. A ruptured aneurysm requires emergency surgery.
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