This article is for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Seek medical care for your treatment.
What is an aortic aneurysm?
Heart is the most significant muscle of our body. In our lifetime our heart pumps ample blood fill almost three supertankers. Aorta is the main artery of our body that carries blood and oxygen from our heart to the other parts of our body. It is a cane-shaped artery. Ascending aorta leads up from heart and descending aorta moves back down into abdomen.
Aorta is strong and durable but, sometimes the walls can weaken and the pressure of blood pumping via the artery causes a balloon like bulge in the feeble area of aorta is called aortic aneurysm. This can cause leakage that spills blood into the body. Some of the aortic aneurysms rupture but some don’t. Others exert blood flow away from organs and tissues, creating health issues, such as heart attacks, kidney damage, stroke and death. An aneurysm can develop in any artery.
Types of Aortic Aneurysm:
There are 2 different types of aortic aneurysms which can harm different parts of the body:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm:
It develops in the portion of your aorta that passes via your abdomen. There no obvious warning signs of it but you might feel unwell if the aneurysm ruptures such as, sweating, vomiting and dizziness. Certain things lead to aortic aneurysm:
- Stiffening of the arteries
- High blood pressure
- Genetic predisposition
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm:
It happens in an area that is shaped like an upside down ‘U’ at the top of the aorta. Some of the causes of thoracic aortic aneurysm are high blood pressure, infection, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol and sudden trauma.
Causes of Aortic aneurysms:
Aortic aneurysms can happen anywhere in the body’s main artery. The aorta moves from the heart through chest and abdomen. When an aneurysm happens in the chest it is called thoracic aortic aneurysm. If an aneurysm develops in between the upper and lower parts of the aorta it is called thoracoabdominal aneurysm. A thoracic aneurysm is more classified by its shape. If the feeble artery wall protrudes like a balloon it is called a saccular aneurysm. If it is uniformly inflated it is called tubular aneurysm.
Aneurysms can develop anywhere in the thoracic aorta, including the heart, in the aortic arch and in the lower area of the thoracic aorta. Causes of thoracic aortic aneurysms are:
- Atherosclerosis: accumulation of plaque on the artery walls causes the arteries to become stiff. Further pressure weakens and dilates the arteries. High blood pressure and high cholesterol level elevates the risk of atherosclerosis and it is more prevalent in older people.
- Genetic conditions: Aortic aneurysm in young people is generally caused because of the genetic conditions. Marfan syndrome, a genetic condition that harms the connective tissue of the body, may cause fatigue in the wall of aorta. Other genetic conditions related to aortic aneurysm and dissection and rupture encompass vascular Ehlers-Danlos, Loeys-Dietz and Turner syndromes.
- Swelling of the blood vessel: situations that include blood vessel inflammation, such as huge cell arteritis and Takayasu arteritis, are linked with the thoracic aortic aneurysms.
- Asymmetrical aortic valve: aortic valve is between the lower left heart chamber and the aorta. People born with an aortic valve that has 2 flaps instead of 3 have more chances of thoracic aneurysm.
- Untreated infection: although infrequent, it is possible to have a thoracic aortic aneurysm if you had an untreated infection in the past, such as syphilis or salmonella.
- Traumatic injury: being injured in falls or car crash can cause thoracic aortic aneurysms.
- Hypertension: high blood pressure results in the deterioration of the aorta’s walls.
Symptoms of aortic aneurysm:
Generally aortic aneurysm does not showcase any symptoms until it ruptures, which is why many people do not know if they have it or not. There are great chances of recovery if you find an aortic aneurysm before it ruptures. If aneurysm bursts it is an emergency situation and needs medical attention immediately. Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm are abrupt and include:
- Fast heart rate
- Intense chest pain, abdominal or back pain.
- Cold sweat
- Feeling of fullness after small meal
- Irregular breathing
- Difficulty in swallowing food
- Inflammation in your arms, neck or face
Thoracic aortic aneurysms grow gradually and there are no obvious symptoms, making it harder to diagnose it. Many grow and stay small, although some grow bigger with the passage of time. It is difficult to detect a rapidly growing thoracic aortic aneurysm. Symptoms of thoracic aortic aneurysm include:
- Back ache
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Low blood pressure
An aneurysm is a projection that develops in the thinning wall of the artery. Two most perilous locations for aneurysm are the brain and the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body. It is difficult to prevent aneurysm but maintaining healthy lifestyle can minimize the risks. If aneurysm bursts it needs immediate medical attention.