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 raises 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 colour.
- Tingling or numbness in your foot.
How is a leg aneurysm diagnosed?
An aneurysm may be found during tests for another, usually unrelated, condition.
How is it 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 when you have a leg aneurysm?
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.
- Control high 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 non-fat dairy foods.
- Limit sodium, alcohol, and sweets.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight may not make the aneurysm any worse. But being at a healthy weight can reduce your risks from surgery if you need it.
- If your doctor recommends it, get more exercise. Walking is a good choice. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk every day. Try for at least 2½ hours a week. You also may want to swim, bike, or do other activities.
Current as of: March 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Jeffrey J. Gilbertson MD - Vascular Surgery