Aortic Aneurysm

Finding out that you have an aortic aneurysm can be alarming. At the Wake Forest Heart & Vascular Center, our specialists offer the full spectrum of repair from traditional surgery to the latest minimally invasive techniques. 

What is an Aortic Aneurysm? 

An aortic aneurysm is a weakened and bulging area in your aorta, the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to your body. The aorta runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen. 

The two types of aortic aneurysm are: 

  • Abdominal: below the heart in the abdomen 
  • Thoracic: near the heart in the chest 

Although aortic aneurysms develop slowly over several years, they can be a sudden, serious health risk. 

  • Because the part of the aorta with the aneurysm is overstretched and weak, it can rupture. 
  • A ruptured aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding, because the aorta is the body's main supplier of blood. 

Symptoms of an Aortic Aneurysm

Most people with aortic aneurysms do not have symptoms. You may begin to feel symptoms if the aneurysm gets bigger and puts pressure on nearby body parts. 

Abdominal aortic aneurysms commonly cause general pain or discomfort in the abdomen. Other symptoms include: 

  • Throbbing pain in your chest, lower back or sides above the kidneys that lasts for hours 
  • A pulsating sensation in the abdomen 

Symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm include: 

  • Deep pain in your chest, jaw, neck or upper back 
  • Coughing or shortness of breath 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Difficulty or pain while swallowing 

If an aortic aneurysm ruptures, you may experience severe pain, a sharp drop in blood pressure and signs of shock. A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency, and you should seek medical assistance right away.

Diagnosing an Aortic Aneurysm 

Most aneurysms are found by chance during a physical exam or imaging tests done for other reasons. At Wake Forest Baptist, your physician will use the following imaging tests to monitor your aneurysm and establish a diagnosis, including: 

Find out about our specialized heart and vascular diagnosis tools. 

Aortic Aneurysm Treatments at Wake Forest 

Once an aortic aneurysm is found, our physicians will closely monitor it so that surgery can be planned if it is necessary. Most small and slow-growing aortic aneurysms don't rupture. Large, fast-growing aortic aneurysms may need close management by your physician. Depending on the size and rate at which the aortic aneurysm is growing, treatment may vary from watchful waiting to surgical intervention. Learn more about endovascular surgery

Contact Us 

Request an appointment online. Or, for more information, please call: 

  • 336-716-WAKE or 
  • 888-716-WAKE (toll-free) 

 

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Last Updated: 05-27-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.