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Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

​The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It runs through the chest cavity (where it is called the thoracic aorta), all the way down through the abdomen (where it is called the abdominal aorta).

If the walls of the thoracic aortic become weak or injured, the artery may not be able to handle the normal force of blood pressing against it. This may result in a balloon-like bulge in the artery, known as a thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA).

Thoracic aortic aneurysms are serious health risks because they can burst or rupture. A ruptured aneurysm can cause severe internal bleeding, which can rapidly lead to shock or death. If an aneurysm is large and close to the heart, it may affect the heart valves and lead to a condition called congestive heart failure.

Fortunately, especially when diagnosed early before it causes symptoms, a TAA can be effectively treated, or even cured, with the latest innovative treatment options.

Symptoms & Risk Factors

Very few people with thoracic aortic aneurysm notice symptoms. However, if you do have symptoms, they will depend on the location and size of the aneurysm and may include:

  • Can be confused with the signs and symptoms of a heart attack
  • Sudden onset of severe chest, neck, back, or abdomen pain that has a ripping, stabbing or tearing feel
  • Unlike heart attacks, which start out with low-grade pain or discomfort – the pain of a dissecting aneurysm is immediate and intense

It is critical to notify your physician immediately if you experience any symptoms of TAA. If left untreated, these conditions may lead to a fatal rupture or organ damage. This is a life-threatening situation and you should seek medical attention immediately.

There are certain factors that increase a person’s risk for thoracic aortic aneurysm:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • A bicuspid aortic valve
  • Early aortic valve surgery (under the age 70)
  • Certain genetic conditions or connective tissue disorders
  • A parent, sibling, or child who has a thoracic aortic aneurysm or who has experienced a dissection, rupture or unexplained sudden death.
  • Trauma to the aorta (like being in a car accident)
  • Smoking
  • Inflammatory processes

If you have any of the above risk factors, it’s important to speak with your physician about whether you should be screened for AAA.

Screening & Diagnosis

If you have any symptoms or risk factors of aortic aneurysm, it’s important to see a cardiologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease, such as the experts at the Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute.

At Hoag, our multidisciplinary team of cardiovascular experts specializes in vascular disease with the latest technologies available to accurately diagnose and treat the full spectrum of vascular disorders and other cardiovascular problems. Learn more about the ground-breaking imaging technologies available at Hoag.

Find out if you qualify for a free abdominal ultrasound AAA screening.

Treatment Options

As a recognized leader in state-of-the-art vascular disease care, Hoag’s multidisciplinary team of cardiovascular experts provides the most advanced vascular disease treatment options available with clinical outcomes that rival national figures. Learn more about innovative minimally invasive treatment options available at Hoag, including ground-breaking hybrid procedures.

Experience You Can Trust

Hoag’s cardiovascular surgeons are among the highest-volume surgeons in Southern California. They are both highly experienced and highly skilled in the latest techniques and procedures for treating aortic aneurysm, as well as dedicated to providing the most advanced patient-centered care.

Learn more about the Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute's top rated vascular disease program: