Risk Factors & Symptoms
Causes of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Smoking, leading to injury of the wall of the aorta
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) where fat, cholesterol, and other substances (plaque) clog arteries.
- Bicuspid aortic valve or other congenital abnormalities (present at birth)
- Connective tissue conditions or genetic predispositions such as Marfan syndrome, Loeys-Dietz and Vascular Ehlers Danlos
- A first degree relative such as a parent, sibling, or child who has a thoracic aortic aneurysm or who has experienced a dissection, rupture or unexplained sudden cardiac death
- Trauma to the aorta (like being in a car accident)
- Inflammatory processes
As you age, your risk of developing a thoracic aortic aneurysm increases. Research indicates that 20% of aneurysms have a familial pattern or is inherited from previous generations. It is important to tell your physician if there is a history of aortic aneurysm in your family to ensure that the best preventative screening is completed.
Symptoms of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
Thoracic aortic aneurysms often do not cause any symptoms and usually develop slowly over time. However, if the aneurysm is big enough to put pressure on a surrounding structure, you may experience acute symptoms such as:
- Sudden onset of severe chest, or back pain
- Pain in the jaw, neck and upper back
- Coughing, hoarseness, or difficulty breathing
- Rapid weak pulse
- Symptoms of a stroke
If you are experiencing acute chest pain – call 911 for immediate assistance and transportation to the nearest emergency room.
Aortic Disease & Genetics
Genetic factors contribute significantly to the risk of developing an aortic aneurysm and/or dissection. In addition, individuals may have a hereditary (or genetic) predisposition to develop an aortic aneurysm/dissection. The Elaine & Robert Matranga Aortic Center is committed to discovering genetic modifiers that contribute to aortic disease. Our team looks closely at how genetics can affect a person’s risk for thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection. A review of your medical history, family history, and a comprehensive physical exam will be conducted at the time of your new consult appointment. The Aortic Center offers genetic counseling and testing at the time of your new consult appointment.
Certain genetic syndromes that affect connective tissue, including Marfan syndrome, Loeys-Dietz syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome vascular type and Turner syndrome, can greatly increase the risk of developing an aortic aneurysm.
Some individuals may have a predisposition to developing an aortic aneurysm and/or dissection even without having one of the genetic syndromes. First-degree relatives (parents, siblings, and children) of a person who has or has had a thoracic aortic aneurysm and/or dissection have a higher chance to develop an aneurysm and should undergo aortic screening.
The Elaine & Robert Matranga Aortic Center provides every therapeutic advantage, from a highly skilled team to advanced treatment approaches and state-of-the-art facilities. Call us for a consultation or a second opinion at 855-735-5677 or email. For patients who live a long distance from Hoag, we are also available for virtual telehealth visits.