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Leg Aneurysm

Condition Basics

What is a leg aneurysm?

A leg aneurysm (say "ANN-yuh-riz-um") is a bulge in a blood vessel (artery) in your leg. The bulge occurs in a weak spot in the artery. It can happen in one or both legs.

Blood clots can form in this type of aneurysm and can block blood flow in your leg.

What increases your risk?

Family history.

People who have a family member who had an aneurysm are more likely to have an aneurysm themselves.

Previous aneurysm.

People who have had aneurysms before—anywhere in the body—are more likely to have another.

Being male.

Men are more likely to have a leg aneurysm.

High blood pressure.

It increases the chance of an aneurysm getting bigger.

Smoking.

Smoking can damage blood vessels.

What are the symptoms?

Many leg aneurysms cause no symptoms. You may have symptoms if a blood clot forms in the aneurysm.

Symptoms of a blood clot may include:

  • Sudden pain in your leg or foot.
  • Your leg or foot being cool or pale or changing color.
  • Tingling or numbness in your foot.

How is it diagnosed?

An aneurysm may be found during tests for another, usually unrelated, condition.

You may have regular tests to find out the size of the aneurysm. Tests can include ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI.

How is a leg aneurysm treated?

A small aneurysm may not need surgery. But your doctor will watch it closely.

Aneurysms may need treatment if they are large or fast-growing or if they cause symptoms.

How can you care for yourself?

Having an aneurysm means you may also have other blood vessel problems.

There are many things you can do to improve your blood vessel health. Doing these things may also prevent more damage to your blood vessels. Your doctor may suggest that you:

  • Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Manage blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle along with medicines may help you lower your blood pressure.
  • Manage cholesterol to help keep your blood vessels healthy. A healthy lifestyle along with medicines may help you manage cholesterol.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and low-fat or nonfat dairy foods.
  • Limit sodium, alcohol, and sweets.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.
  • Ask your doctor what type and level of activity is safe for you. If your doctor recommends it, get regular exercise. Walking is a good choice. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk every day. Try for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. You also may want to swim, bike, or do other activities.
  • Manage other health problems. If you think you may have a problem with alcohol or drug use, talk to your doctor.

Credits

Current as of: July 6, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review:

Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

Jeffrey J. Gilbertson MD - Vascular Surgery

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