Thoracic aortic aneurysm

An aneurysm is an abnormal widening or ballooning of a portion of an artery. It can be caused by a weakness in one of the walls of any blood vessel. A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a widening or ballooning of a portion of the aorta. This means that a portion of the aorta wall has become week and is bulging. The aorta is the largest artery in the body. The thorax is the part of the body between the neck and abdomen which is where the heart and lungs are and the aorta is attached to the heart, hence the term thoracic aortic aneurysm.

A thoracic aortic aneurysm is not as common as an abdominal aortic aneurysm. A thoracic aortic aneurysm can be caused by a blunt injury due to a fall or accident. This condition may sometimes be treated by surgery. The presence of such an aneurysm is a common cause death in the older population. In fact, every year in the United States about 45,000 people die from this condition due to its many complications. This is because a tear in the aortic wall can be deadly. Both men and women can develop a thoracic aortic aneurysm. The most common age for this to occur is between the ages of 50 and 70. However people younger than that have died from this condition. Women who are pregnant can develop such an aneurysm at some point during their pregnancy. Hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, is the most common cause of a thoracic aortic aneurysm. Atherosclerosis is also called hardening of the arteries. People who have had high blood pressure for a long time can develop a thoracic aortic aneurysm. Syphilis and Marfan syndrome, a disorder of the connective tissues, can also be a risk factor.

A person can have an aneurysm like this and not even know it unless it begins to expand or leak. One symptom may be back or chest pain. A person who is experiencing back pain or chest pain should see their doctor who can rule out the presence of a thoracic aortic aneurysm. Treatment for this condition will depend on where the aneurysm is. If the aneurysm is in the ascending aorta or in the aortic arch, surgery can be done to replace the aorta with a substitute. This requires a major surgery and in which the patient is hooked up to a heart-lung machine during the operation. The patient will have to be put through a “circulatory arrest” and be on life support during the operation if the aneurysm is in the aortic arch. Depending on the severity and location of the thoracic aortic aneurysm, the patient may also be given the option of having an endovascular stenting done which is a less invasive surgery. The stent will be used to hold the artery open. When a stent is used instead of replacing the aorta it involves having a tiny catheter inserted into the goin area which can pass through to the place where the aneurysm is where the stent can be placed. If the aneurysm is in the descending aorta the patient may not be able to be given this option.

About 10% of the patients who have such an aneurysm have had other family member with the same condition. Autopsies reveal that about 3 to 4% of people who die over the age of 65 die to an aneurismal rupture. About 3 to 4 out of every 100,000 people will develop a thoracic aortic aneurysm. The incidence is increasing every year and may be due to new diagnostic testing techniques. Again, it is more prevalent in the older population. One reason may be that collagen and elastin levels can decline as one ages and can weaken the aortic wall. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause. The mortality rate when a rupture of the aorta occurs is 50 to 80%.

Last updated on Dec 21st, 2010 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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