Maryland Heart Center
What is a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm? | Symptoms
| Diagnosis and Prevention | Surgical
What is a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?
An aneurysm is abnormal widening or ballooning of a portion of a blood
vessel. The blood vessel wall becomes weaker in this location. Aneurysms
can occur in any artery in the body, including the aorta. The aorta is the
largest artery in the body and the primary blood vessel leading from the
heart to the body. It carries the blood that is pumped out of the heart
and distributes it to the organs of the body.
The aorta extends from the heart, down through the chest (the thoracic aorta)
and into the abdomen (the abdominal aorta.)
A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a localized expansion of the wall of the aorta.
Thoracic aortic aneurysms are caused by:
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Congenital disorders such as Marfan's syndrome
- Or less commonly, syphilis.
Atherosclerosis is by far the most common cause.
Thoracic aneurysms occur in the ascending aorta (25% of the time), the aortic
arch (25% of the time), or the descending thoracic aorta (50% of the time).
Prevention measures for aortic aneurysms would be the same ones taken to prevent
atherosclerosis. These would include not smoking, controlling blood pressure
and blood lipid levels, and exercising daily.
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