What causes an aortic aneurysm?
Most aortic aneurysms occur in the abdominal aorta, the main cause being arteriosclerosis. This is a condition in which fatty deposits are laid down in the walls of arteries, which are less elastic and weaker as a result. Major risk factors for arteriosclerosis are smoking and high blood pressure, although it also probably runs in families. The usual cause is
atheroma (atherosclerosis). Atheroma is a fatty substance that deposits within the inside lining of arteries. It can weaken the artery wall and allow it to form an aneurysm. (Atheroma is sometimes called 'furring of the arteries'.) Anyone can develop atheroma, but it develops more commonly with increasing age. Certain 'risk factors' also increase the chance of atheroma forming. They include: smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, raised cholesterol level, taking little exercise, and obesity. These are the same risk factors that increase the chance of atheroma forming in the heart (coronary) arteries which can cause angina and heart attacks.
There is a familial tendency to aortic aneurysms. This tendency is at least in part genetic. Among the inheritable causes of aortic aneurysms are connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan's syndrome. Arteritis (inflammation of blood vessels) as occurs in Takayasu disease, giant cell arteritis, and relapsing polychondritis. Congenital malformation of the aorta (aneurysms tend to develop just beyond the narrowing of a coarctation of the aorta; also with what is called a ductus diverticulum). End-stage (tertiary) syphilis, which tends to affect the ascending aorta and arch of the aorta. Mycotic (fungal) infection which may be associated with immunodeficiency, IV drug abuse, heart valve surgery.
Rare causes of aortic aneurysms include injury and certain hereditary conditions that can affect the artery structure. For example, some people with Marfan's syndrome develop an aortic aneurysm.
More information on aortic aneurysm and other aortic valve diseases
What is an aortic aneurysm? - An aortic aneurysm is a localized dilatation or aneurysm of the aorta, usually representing an underlying weakness in the wall of the aorta at that location.
What causes an aortic aneurysm? - Most aortic aneurysms occur in the abdominal aorta, the main cause being arteriosclerosis. There is a familial tendency to aortic aneurysms.
What're the symptoms of aortic aneurysm? - Most intact aortic aneurysms do not produce any symptoms. The ballooning of the aneurysm does not cause any symptoms unless it becomes large enough.
What're the complications of aortic aneurysm? - Half of all persons with untreated abdominal aortic aneurysms die of rupture within 5 years. Spontaneous blockage of the aorta can also occur.
How is aortic aneurysm diagnosed? - Aortic aneurysms can be diagnosed from their symptoms. An ultrasound scan is the easiest way to detect an aortic aneurysm.
What's the treatment for aortic aneurysms? - Medical therapy of aortic aneurysms involves strict blood pressure control. Symptomatic aneurysms require surgical treatment to prevent complications.
What's an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)? - An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a bulge in the aorta in abdomen. Most AAAs occur in association with advanced atherosclerosis.
What're the symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm? - Symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm include a pulsing sensation in the abdomen, and pain ranging from mild to severe.
How is abdominal aortic aneurysm diagnosed? - Because abdominal aortic aneurysms may not cause any symptoms at the beginning, they are diagnosed by chance during a physical examination.
What's the treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysm? - Treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm depends upon the size of the aneurysm. Surgical treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm is often preformed.
What is aortic valve disease? - An aortic valve disorder usually does not cause any symptoms in its early stages. Infection on an abnormal aortic valve leads to a disease called infective endocarditis.
What is aortic insufficiency? - Aortic insufficiency is the leaking of the aortic valve of the heart that causes blood to flow in the reverse direction during ventricular diastole.
What's aortic valve regurgitation? - Aortic valve regurgitation develops hen the valve leaflets fail to close properly during the heart's relaxation phase.
What causes aortic valve regurgitation? - Causes of aortic valve regurgitation include being born with a defective aortic valve, wear and tear from aging, infection of the lining of the heart.
What're the symptoms of aortic regurgitation? - Symptoms of aortic regurgitation include chest pain, excessive sweating, palpitations, shortness of breath that worsens with exertion or lying down.
How is aortic valve regurgitation diagnosed? - A doctor diagnoses aortic valve regurgitation by hearing a heart murmur or other abnormal noises when listening with a stethoscope.
What're the treatments for aortic regurgitation? - Medicines to improve the pumping action of the heart may be given to reduce the severity of the regurgitation. Valve replacement surgery is usually recommended.
What is aortic stenosis? - Aortic valve stenosis is a heart condition caused by narrowing of the aortic valve. Aortic stenosis is the inability of the aortic valve to open completely.
What causes aortic stenosis? - Congenital aortic stenosis is caused by improper development of the aortic valve in the first 8 weeks of fetal growth. Age related calcification of the valve is the most common cause.
What're the symptoms of aortic stenosis? - Symptoms of aortic stenosis include shortness of breath (dyspnea), passing out (syncope), and chest pain (angina pectoris).
How is aortic stenosis diagnosed? - Aortic stenosis is often diagnosed due to the presence of a heart murmur. The gold standard for diagnosis is an echocardiogram.
What's the treatment for aortic stenosis? - Patients with mild aortic stenosis do not require treatment. Valve replacement surgery is indicated for patients with severe aortic stenosis.
Aortic valve replacement surgery - Aortic valve replacement surgery is an open heart procedure for treatment of narrowing (stenosis) or leakage (regurgitation) of the aortic valve.