They’re called the "time-bomb" of cardiology and now London-based researchers may have found a way to diffuse those bombs.

It’s like a bomb in your body, and you don’t even know it’s there. They’re the leading cause of death in North America, growing - sometimes for decades - undetected, until one day they rupture.

And recently these ascending aortic aneurysms have made headlines after claiming the lives of notable celebrities like Alan Thicke and John Ritter.

Cardiac Surgeon Dr. Michael Chu says, “People don’t usually have symptoms before it’s too late, and they can be like that for years and not know its growing inside them."

In new study researchers at Western University and Lawson Health Research Institute may have discovered what might be causing these aneurysms and potentially how to treat them.

The aneurysms are caused by the thinning of the aortic wall which weakens it and makes it silently grow like a balloon over time without any symptoms until it essentially explodes.

A process that is found in cancer biology is causing the cells to become destructive and eat away at the surrounding muscle tissue, weakening the aortic wall.

“To an extent that they turn into a state we refer to as senescence, it goes from being a fairly passive tube to one that in a sense starts destroying itself,” says Schulich's Dr. Geoffrey Pickering.

This discovery means researchers can look at ways to prevent the process.

The next steps in this study is to find methods to clear out these destructive cells in order to slow the progression of this disease.

Pickering says, “There is a notion that if we can clear these cells out of the tissues then the health of those tissues will remain stable.”

Something that Chu says could save thousand of lives, “It could be completely revolutionary and change how we identify and treat these patients.”