Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are a major cause of illness and death in the U.S., with the incidence increasing dramatically over the age of 55. These aneurysms are a widening and bulging of the large artery that runs through the body from the heart into the abdomen. They often go undetected until they suddenly rupture, often resulting in death within minutes.
A team of physicians and engineers from Emory and Georgia Tech is studying the biology and biomechanics of vascular inflammation and disturbed blood flow in AAAs to understand how they develop and could be prevented or detected earlier.
Cardiologist and biomedical engineer Robert Taylor is leading the Biomedical Engineering Partnership, funded by $6 million from the NIH.
Taylor points out that predicting the likelihood of aneurysm rupture is extremely difficult and patients often donâ€™t notice them until they already are leaking or ruptured. Even small aneurysms often expand rapidly and rupture. He and his team will try to pin down specific risk factors for AAAs, which they think differ from traditional cardiovascular risk factors.