Aortic Aneurysm

Any disease of the aorta is very serious, but with appropriate lifestyle modifications and the expert care you’ll get from INTEGRIS Health, chances are you’ll be able to live a healthy, active life.

Aortic Aneurysm at INTEGRIS Health

An aortic aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge that occurs in the heart’s aorta. The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.

Built with thick walls, the aorta artery provides normal blood pressure to the rest of the body. However, if the artery experiences certain medical problems, genetic conditions, or trauma, this can damage and weaken the artery’s walls. By the force of blood being pushed against artery walls, it can weaken or injure arteries resulting in an aortic aneurysm.

Types of Aortic Aneurysms

There are two distinct types of aortic aneurysms depending on where the aneurysm takes place.
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: This aneurysm occurs in the belly or abdomen area where the aorta passes through.
  • Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm: This aneurysm occurs in the chest cavity. A thoracic aortic aneurysm is less common than abdominal aortic aneurysms.
Some people may experience both types of aneurysms.

Causes of Aortic Aneurysms

Several major risk factors for aortic aneurysm include the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)

Additional risk factors can include

  • Aging
  • Trauma to the heart, thoracic, and abdominal areas
  • Infections
  • Rate connective tissue disorders (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome)
  • Family genetics

Aortic aneurysms are more frequent among people over the age of 60 and affects men more than women. Ruptured aneurysms are the 10th leading cause of death in men over the age of 55 in the United States.

Symptoms of Aortic Aneurysms

When experiencing an aortic aneurysm, symptoms are often produced. When present, symptoms will most likely include pain in the middle of the belly, back, or chest cavity, depending on where the aneurysm is happening.

Treatment for Aortic Aneurysms

An aneurysm can be treated if detected early before the rupture happening. If the aorta splits open, death is likely to happen unless the rupture is treated immediately.

Treatment for an aneurysm depends on the size and risk of the rupture.

  • An aneurysm less than 1.5 inches or 4 cm: no treatment may be necessary, however, regular check-ups every six months to a year is strongly recommended. Sonograms are advised to monitor if the aneurysm begins to increase in size.
  • An aneurysm larger than 2 inches or 5 cm: Surgery is a recommended treatment. This operation may involve installing a stent in the aorta. A synthetic mesh tube, the stent can help make the aorta stronger. Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) is also an option for patients. This involves placing an expandable stunt graft within the aorta without directly operating on the aorta. Depending on the patient’s anatomy, surgical risk, and condition is what the doctor takes into consideration when recommending a treatment.
  • Treatment for aneurysms between 1.6 inches and 2 inches remains unclear. While some healthcare providers may recommend a surgical procedure, others recommend follow-up appointments. If the aneurysm is growing by 0.4 inches a year, surgery is most likely your best option.

    Part of heart and vascular care includes managing heart disease and preventing further deterioration to help you live the fullest life possible.

    To accomplish that, we’ll provide you with education, continued care options and programs even after you are discharged including:

    Although any disease of the aorta is very serious, with appropriate lifestyle modifications and the expert care you'll get from INTEGRIS Health, chances are you'll be able to live a healthy, active life. We'll work with you to make difficult changes for the better, while keeping a close eye on the aneurysm to prevent rupture.

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