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Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

Depending on its location and size, a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm is quite a serious disease. It can cause excessive internal bleeding that can be life-threatening. Surgery or other less invasive techniques are used to treat this disease.

What is a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

The major blood vessel called the aorta that takes blood to other parts of the body can be weakened over time, resulting in a thoracic aortic aneurysm. Aortic aneurysms may develop anywhere along the aorta that runs from the heart through your chest and the abdomen. When they happen in the chest, they are known as thoracic aortic aneurysms. Aortic dissection (a tear in the wall of aorta) may occur because of an aneurysm. A dissection can result in life-threatening bleeding or sudden death.

Aneurysms may occur anywhere in your thoracic aorta, including near your heart, in the aortic arch and in the lower part of your thoracic aorta. When the aorta becomes weak, the blood pushing against the vessel can make it look like a bulging balloon. Big, fast-growing aneurysms may also rupture, while small and slow-growing aneurysms may never rupture. 

The treatment of this disease varies largely based on the size of the dissection and how much bleeding it causes.

What are the Symptoms of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

Detecting a thoracic aortic aneurysm is difficult because often, it does not show any symptoms but keeps growing. Some of these aneurysms might not rupture ever, some might stay small throughout your life, and some might increase in size over time. That is why detecting this disease is challenging for doctors. However, if these aneurysms grow, certain symptoms may be seen. They are: 

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Back pain.
  • Hoarseness of voice 
  • Cough.
  • Chest pain.
  • Tenderness in the chest.
  • Sharp and sudden pain in the upper back radiating downward.
  • Pain in jaw, arms, and neck.

When Should You See a Doctor?

If you have a family history of connective tissue disorders like aortic aneurysm, Marfan syndrome, or bicuspid aortic valve, in that case, you should consult a doctor and get a CT scan or ultrasound to check if you have this disease. If you encounter any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, you should consult your doctor immediately. 

Since the symptoms do not appear in many cases, we recommend you book an appointment at Apollo Hospitals to get more information about this disease. Call 1860-500-1066 now.

Causes and risk factors 

Factors that can contribute to the development of an aneurysm include:

  1. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries): As plaque builds up on the artery walls, they tend to become less flexible, and the extra pressure may cause them to bulge and weaken. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are the risk factors for hardening of the arteries. This is very common in older individual.
  2. Genetic conditions. . People born with genetic conditions like Marfan syndrome (a genetic condition which affects connective tissue in our body) are especially at risk of a thoracic aortic aneurysm as they may have weakness in the aortic wall.
  3. Inflammatory conditions, like Takayasu arteritis and giant cell arteritis are linked to thoracic aortic aneurysms.
  4. Problems with your heart’s aortic valve 
  5. Untreated infection like salmonella or syphilis
  6. Traumatic injury: Although rarely, some people who are injured in motor vehicle crashes or falls may develop thoracic aortic aneurysms.

What are the Complications of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

A rupture or dissection is a medical emergency. Call emergency for immediate help.

If an aneurysm ruptures, or if one or more layers of your artery wall tears, you may experience:

  • Pain in the neck, chest, arms, or jaw 
  • Sudden, sharp pain in your upper back that radiates downward
  • Difficulty in breathing

Other major complications of this disease are: 

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blood pressure issues
  • Trouble swallowing food
  • Trouble breathing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Paralysis on one side of your body
  • Persistent pain in your back and chest that radiates downwards

Small blood clots may develop in the area of aortic aneurysm. If a blood clot raptures or breaks loose from the inside wall of the aneurysm, it can block a blood vessel somewhere else in your body, which may possibly cause severe complications.

Is There a Way to Prevent Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

You need to keep your blood vessels as healthy as possible if you want to prevent this disease. Always try to keep your blood pressure under control. Do not use tobacco products in any form. It is better to exercise regularly to keep your body weight under control. You must try to decrease the amount of fat and cholesterol in your diet

How is Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm treated ?

Tests like echocardiogram, MRI scan, or CT scan may be  performed to detect the size of the aneurysm.

  1. Beta-blocker medications such as atenolol, bisoprolol, and metoprolol may be given that can slow your heart rate. Angiotensin II receptor blockers like valsartan and losartan, are used if your blood pressure is not under control using the beta-blockers. To lower your cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe you statin medications, such as atorvastatin and simvastatin.
  2. Surgical treatment options include open-chest surgery or endovascular surgery. While it is possible to repair a raptured or dissected aortic aneurysm with an emergency surgery, there is a much higher risk and a greater chance of complications. Owing of this, pysicians prefer to identify and treat thoracic aortic aneurysms before they dissect or rupture, and to follow through with a lifelong monitoring and suitable preventive surgery.

Conclusion

If you are worried about any of these symptoms, make an appointment right now. This disease can be life-threatening because symptoms do not manifest  during the initial stages. But if this condition is left untreated, it will cause severe internal bleeding, resulting in complications. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the relation between an untreated infection and a thoracic aortic aneurysm?

If you have any untreated infectious diseases, such as salmonella or syphilis, your chances of developing a thoracic aortic aneurysm increase.

Can thoracic aortic aneurysm have a genetic cause?

If this disease is diagnosed in young people, it is probably caused due to genetic disorders such as Marfan’s , Vascular Ehlers-Danlos, Loeys-Dietz, and Turner syndrome.

Which foods should I avoid if I have a thoracic aortic aneurysm?

Red meat, fried food, sugary drinks, packaged foods, and full-fat dairy products are some food items to avoid if you have a thoracic aortic aneurysm.

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