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
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
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
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
- Deep pain in your chest, jaw, neck or upper
- Coughing or shortness of breath
- 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
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.
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