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Abdominal pain

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Updated December 03, 2003

Description: pain or discomfort in or around the abdominal area

Causes related to cardiovascular disease: Vascular disease can cause abdominal pain in several ways. Blockage or partial blockage (due to atherosclerosis) of arteries supplying the vital organs can cause those organs to become ischemic, and therefore painful. This type of pain is usually greater after a meal.

An aneurysm of the abdominal aorta can cause pain, especially if the aneurysm begins to tear or rupture. This pain is often very severe, and sudden in onset. It is a medical emergency.

Causes related to other disorders: Numerous disorders of abdominal organs - stomach, intestines, bowel, liver, spleen, gallbladder, reproductive organs - can cause pain.

Significance: Vascular disease involving the abdominal blood vessels is always a significant, and potentially dangerous, medical problem. A ruptured or torn abdominal aortic aneurysm is often fatal. Many non-cardiovascular diseases causing pain in abdominal organs are also medically significant. Any unexplained abdominal pain that is severe, frequent, prolonged or persistent needs to be evaluated by a physician.

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