Aortic Blood Vessel Diseases
What It Is
The aorta is the largest, main artery through which blood flows from the heart to the rest of the body. When the aorta is affected by disease, it can split (dissection) or bulge (aneurysm). An aortic aneurysm is a weak, bulging area in the wall of the aorta and it tends to get bigger with time. If an aortic aneurism occurs near the heart it may affect the heart valves and the branches coming from the heart, requiring different types of cardiac treatments.
The greatest dangers are that an aneurysm will tear (dissection) or cause heavy, uncontrollable bleeding. Blood from the aneurysm can leak through this tear and spread between the layers of the aortic wall. This can lead to rupture of the vessel or comprise the surrounding arteries.
Thoracic aortic aneurysms fall into the following three categories:
- Ascending aortic aneurysms. This type of aneurysm is the second most common aortic aneurysm to abdominal aortic aneurysms and occurs in the part of the aorta arising from the heart and going up the front of the chest.
- Aneurysm affecting the aortic arch. The aortic arch has branches of arteries that supply blood to the head and upper body. Aneurysms of the aortic arch may be caused by atherosclerosis, dissection or inflammation.
- Aneurysm affecting the aortic root. This type of aneurysm occurs at the aortic root, which is the section of the aorta that is attached to the heart. An aortic root aneurysm can cause a life-threatening condition called aortic dissection. In this condition, blood flows through a tear in the inner layer of the aorta, causing the layers to separate. Blood flow becomes interrupted and causes the arterial wall to burst.
Why the Center for Advanced Cardiac Surgery for Treating Aortic Blood Vessel Diseases?
The Steward Center for Advanced Cardiac Surgery is one of the fastest growing centers in the New England region for the treatment of aortic blood vessel diseases. Our senior cardiac surgeons work alongside St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center's vascular team to provide integrated, coordinated care for our patients. In addition to providing high quality care, our multidisciplinary teams are experts in diagnosing and treating various aortic blood vessel diseases. Depending on a patient’s treatment plan, we perform traditional procedures and are highly-skilled in vessel preservation.
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