An aortic aneurysm is a weakening and swelling in the wall of the aorta, the body's largest artery. If not treated, the aneurysm can burst and cause potentially lethal internal bleeding. The aorta is a highly elastic blood vessel, expanding and contracting based on blood flow needs. But if a portion of the aorta losses elasticity, an aneurysm can form, causing the weakened portion of the vessel to balloon outwards. People with conditions that put extra and prolonged stress on artery walls, such as those with high blood pressure or atherosclerosis (hardening of the artery walls), are at risk for an aortic aneurysm. Individuals who smoke, or who have family members who have had an aortic aneurysm, also have a heightened risk. Most aortic aneurysms do not have any symptoms, so physicians will usually conduct investigative screens for those at risk for the condition via ultrasound, MRI or CT-scan. Having an aneurysm increases the risk of blood clots and stroke (clots are more likely to form in the ballooned aortic wall). Treatment for an aortic aneurysm depends on the size and growth of the aneurysm and the health of the patient. For small, stable cases, the condition is usually managed with medication, healthy eating habits, and frequent observation. For large and/or growing cases, surgery may be required to repair the aneurysm site. A burst aortic aneurysm causes extreme pain and bleeding and causes death within minutes to hours if left untreated.