Aortic Diseases

Aortic disease is one of the most common forms of cardiovascular disease. The aorta is the largest artery, and it carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body. The first part of the aorta starts just past the heart and the aortic valve and extends all the way down to the diaphragm. This portion is called the thoracic aorta. The part of the aorta below the diaphragm is called the abdominal aorta. There are a variety of conditions that can affect the strength and cause it to enlarge (aneurysm), tear (dissection), or even rupture. Blood flow can also be decreased through the aorta in the presence of blockages and can affect blood flow to various organs and your arms and legs. These events can be life-threatening. 

What is aortic disease?

Aortic disease is caused when there is damage to the linings of the aorta that can either cause blockages to form or the wall of the aorta to stretch or tear. Some examples of health conditions that can weaken or affect blood flow in the aorta include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).
  • Atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries).
  • Cystic medial degeneration.
  • Connective tissue disorders (e.g., Marfan, Ehlers-Danlos, or Loeys-Dietz syndromes).
  • Genetic conditions (e.g., congenital bicuspid aortic valve, autoimmune diseases, polycystic kidney disease).

Aortic aneurysms

An aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area or bulge in the aorta, typically caused by weakening of the wall of the aorta. In some cases of thoracic aortic aneurysms, the aortic valve can be affected and may need to be repaired or replaced. Oftentimes, aneurysms don’t enlarge enough to require surgery, but need to be monitored carefully to ensure they don’t grow too fast or lead to life-threatening ruptures or tearing.

Aortic dissection

An aortic dissection refers to a tear in the inner layer of the aorta. This is a serious, sometimes emergent condition that causes blood to enter between the layers of the aorta. It can decrease the blood flow to your body and carries risk of rupture.

Aortic disease symptoms

You should see your doctor right away if you feel:

  • Sudden severe chest pain or abdominal pain that radiates to your back.
  • A sudden “tearing” pain that starts in the middle of your back.
  • Faint, or if you lose consciousness.

Aortic disease care at AHN: Why choose us?

Our team of physicians are experts at caring for patients with aortic diseases and other conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. At the Cardiovascular Institute, you can expect:

Advanced and cutting-edge treatments for complex cases

We utilize a wide array of treatment options for patients with various aortic diseases. In some cases, we’re able to perform advanced, minimally invasive surgery to correct various conditions. This can include placing stents (EVAR, TEVAR), using smaller incisions, or utilizing cutting-edge devices to replace the aorta. All of these advances help improve recovery time and are less invasive than the sometimes-necessary, standard surgical approaches. Most importantly, they improve survival, particularly for those for which larger surgery is too risky.

A comprehensive program

We offer the experience and knowledge needed to treat all types of aortic conditions. From straightforward conditions using just medical therapies to the most complex conditions that may require surgery, our program provides comprehensive treatment.

A multidisciplinary team approach

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