The exact causes of aortic aneurysm are not known. However, certain factors can contribute to the disorder. For example, connective tissue diseases can weaken the walls of the fragile aorta. Traumatic injury resulting from falls or motor vehicle accidents is another contributing factor.
Risk factors for aortic aneurysms include:
- Heart disease (atherosclerosis): Fatty deposits of plaque in the blood can damage the lining of the aorta, which may stiffen and become weak. Heart disease risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure (which damages blood vessel walls), high blood cholesterol and being overweight.
- Smoking, also a heart disease factor, increases the incidence of aneurysms and also increases their growth.
- Age: Aneurysms typically develop in individuals age 60 and older.
- Sex: More men than women develop aortic aneurysms.
- Family history: Recent research has shown that aneurysms follow genetic patterns. A family history of cardiovascular or peripheral vascular disease (a narrowing of the blood vessels) also can contribute to aortic aneurysm risk.