Symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm 

In most cases, an unruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) will cause no symptoms, unless it becomes particularly large.

Symptoms of an unruptured AAA may include:

  • a pulsating feeling in your stomach (abdomen), usually near your belly button, that's usually only noticeable when you touch it
  • persistent back pain
  • persistent abdominal pain

If you have any of the symptoms above, you should see your GP as soon as possible.

Ruptured AAA

If your aortic aneurysm ruptures, you will feel a sudden and severe pain in the middle or side of your abdomen. In men, the pain can also radiate down into the scrotum.

Other symptoms include:

  • dizziness
  • sweaty and clammy skin
  • rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling faint
  • loss of consciousness

Medical emergency

A ruptured aortic aneurysm is a medical emergency, and it’s important to get to hospital as soon as possible.

Around 80% of people with a rupture die before they reach hospital or don’t survive emergency surgery.

This is why the NHS AAA Screening Programme was introduced, so dangerously large aneurysms can be treated before they burst.

If you suspect that you or someone in your care has had a ruptured aneurysm, call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.


Page last reviewed: 30/08/2014

Next review due: 30/08/2017