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Most aortic aneurysms do not cause symptoms. They are often discovered during routine exams.

About half of patients with a thoracic aneurysm will not feel any symptoms. The rest may experience (depending on the size and location of the aneurysm) difficulty breathing, cough, hoarseness, and pain in the chest, back, jaw or neck.

Not all patients with an abdominal aneurysm will experience symptoms, but those who do may feel sudden pain in the abdomen or lower back, indicating the aneurysm is about to rupture. They may also experience a pulsing in their abdomen, much like a heartbeat. Rarely, their feet or toes may develop pain, sores, or discoloration from the material shed from the aneurysm.

The real dangers of aneurysms are clotting and stroke, tearing and separation between layers of the aorta wall (aortic dissection), damage to a nearby valve, and sudden rupture leading to internal bleeding and death. Risks depend on the aneurysm's size, location and rate of expansion.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.