The aorta extends upward from the top of the left ventricle of the heart in the chest area (ascending thoracic aorta), then curves like a candy cane (aortic arch) downward through the chest area (descending thoracic aorta) into the abdomen (abdominal aorta). The aorta delivers oxygenated blood pumped from the heart to the rest of the body.
An aneurysm can be characterized by its location, shape, and cause. An ascending aortic aneurysm, which is located in the chest area, is involved the area of the aorta closest to the heart.
What are the causes of aortic aneurysms?
Thoracic aortic aneurysms may be caused by different disease processes, especially in respect to their location. Ascending thoracic aneurysms may be caused by
If my aneurysm is not causing symptoms, why do I need surgery?
The objective of surgical repair of an aneurysm is to prevent potential complications related to the aneurysm. These include:
In addition, the risk of aortic catastrophe, including dissection and rupture, increases dramatically after the aneurysm reaches 5 centimeters.Surgery is generally recommended when the proximal aorta is larger than 5 centimeters. However, depending on other factors, including other vascular conditions or the need for additional surgery (particularly heart surgery), this threshold varies with individual patients.
How do I prevent an aortic dissection and/or further growth of my aneurysm?
Here are a few tips:
What are the symptoms of an aneurysm?
Aortic disease is often insidious. Most people with aortic aneurysms experience no symptoms, unless they are extremely large or an aortic dissection occurs. For most people, their aortic condition is discovered incidentally while being tested for other reasons.
When symptoms occur, they may include pain in the jaw, neck, chest and/or back; wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath; hoarseness or difficulty swallowing. The symptoms of an aneurysm may resemble other medical conditions or problems, including heart attacks, pneumonia, and digestive conditions. Always consult your physician for more information.
How are aneurysms diagnosed?
For most people, their aortic condition is discovered incidentally while being tested for other reasons. For patients suspected to have aortic disease, selection of a type of diagnostic examination is related to the location of the aneurysm. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for an aneurysm may include any, or a combination, of the following:
What are the possible treatment for aortic aneurysms?
Treatment options for an amort aneurysm may include one or more of the following:
-- controlling blood sugar in those with diabetics,
-- weight loss if those overweight or obese and
-- controlling dietary fat intake
-- high blood pressure
Specific treatment will be determined by your physician based on: