What is Aortic Aneurysm?
Aortic aneurysm refers to a swelling and/or enlargement of the aorta, which is the body’s biggest blood vessel originating from the heart and thoracic area and extending down to the abdominal area. When the aorta dilates abnormally, it is usually due to some weakness in the blood vessel’s walls. But this particular blood vessel can only take so much pressure from overstretching and may rupture. This condition will cause severe symptoms like internal hemorrhage and death.
Since the aorta extends from the heart down to the abdomen, aneurysms in this blood vessel are classified depending on the location. Bulging of this blood vessel at its root area is called aortic root aneurysm. Those that occur in the chest or thoracic area are called thoracic aortic aneurysms. This type is also subdivided into ascending, descending, and aortic arch types. The aneurysms that occur in the abdominal areas are called abdominal aneurysms. Thoraco-abdominal aneurysms occur in both thoracic and abdominal areas.
Symptoms of aortic aneurysm usually involve pain in the affected area, but may spread to other parts of the body like the lower extremities. Those affected in the thoracic area may also present with chest pain, breathing difficulties, pain in swallowing, and hoarseness of voice. Abdominal types may cause coldness, pain, and bluish color in the toes. When an aneurysm ruptures, it will cause immediate internal hemorrhage leading to severe pain and ultimately death if not given immediate medical attention.
Aneurysms in the aorta may be caused by high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cystic medial necrosis, and even bacterial infection of the arteries. Treatment will depend on severity and location but in any case, monitoring is essential to help prevent rupture and increase survival rates. Some patients are given medicines to lower blood pressure and relax the arteries, while other severe cases may require surgery.