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Aortic disease covering aortic aneurysms

Aorta is the largest artery of human body. The heart pumps blood from left ventricle to aorta through the aortic valve. It functions to carry oxygenated blood from heart to various parts of the body.  Aorta runs from heart through centre of chest and abdomen. There are a variety of conditions and diseases which can cause damage to the aorta and lead to many life threatening conditions. Aortic disease can be caused mostly due to deposition of plague or damage in aorta over time. Depending upon the situation aortic diseases are of different types.

Causes of aortic diseases:

Damage can be caused anywhere around the aorta but most diseases occur in the part near the abdomen. Varieties of factors which play a role in developing aortic diseases are:

  • Trauma such as a traumatic accident
  • Inflammation of blood vessels
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure is a common cause which weakens aortic walls
  • Bacterial or fungal infection in aorta
  • Hardening of the blood vessels

In aneurysms there is a dilation of or bulging out of the walls of an artery. Similarly an aortic aneurysm is bulging out of the aorta. Aortic aneurysms are of two types, the one present in the chest is known as thoracic aortic aneurysms and the one present in lower abdominal region of the body is known as abdominal aortic aneurysms, both of these types have different reasons of development. Aortic aneurysm is caused due to the development of excess pressure in blood flowing through the aorta thus creating a bulge at the weak spot in the artery. It is a serious health risk as it might burst and lead to internal bleeding. Fortunately enough, not all aneurysms rupture right away but take time to grow and over time if left unnoticed rupture.  It occurs most commonly in people over the age of 60 years.

Symptoms of aortic aneurysms:

In the early stages aneurysms do not usually show any symptoms. It is often found in conjugation with other aliments during aroutine checkup or other diagnostic tests.  Chest pain and back pain are the two most common signs of aortic aneurysms.  Few other symptoms noted for aortic aneurysms are vomiting, nausea, feeling of fullness or minimal food intake and or pulsating bulge.  In certain cases thrombi which is a blood clot forms which travels through the blood stream and lodges somewhere leading to discontinuous blood flow. It might lead to heart stroke and even affect vital organs like lungs. Commonly it can cause numbness in the affected area and tingling sensation.

What are the risks associated with aortic aneurysms?

Some of the common risk factors with aortic aneurysms are:

  • Male sex
  • Age above 60 years
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of heart diseases and/or aortic aneurysms
  • Atheroschlerosis which is the hardening of arteries
  • Marfan syndrome which is a genetic issue inherited, in this there is constant thinning of arteries.

How to understand the need of medical care for aortic aneurysms?

It is necessary to be alert and cautious in life when it comes to repeated chest pain or tingling sensation in and around the chest.  Besides this a strong pulsating bulge or strong bulging situation which is constant needs special attention, in such a case it is advised to seek medical advice.

In case of a chest pain, one should focus on its severity, and immediate attention is advised. If the aortic aneurysms rupture inside the body leading to internal bleeding, it has to be treated as a medical emergency because the patient might bleed to death in few minutes.

Besides the major symptoms back pain and abdominal pain should be given focus.

How to diagnose aortic aneurysms?

A direct evaluation is done in serious cases but in simpler or less serious cases doctor might go from simpler diagnostic procedure to specific one ruling one after another. Since patients cannot communicate or remember items, it is helpful to arrive in an emergency department with someone who knows or who has access to the patient's medical and surgical history

A probable test is ECG, besides this an ultrasound, CT- scan or MRI can also be performed to be sure and locate the exact problem.

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