An ascending aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the portion of the aorta closest to the heart. The ascending aorta begins at the heart's left ventricle and extends to the aortic arch, or the bend in the aorta. The arch of the aorta gives off branches to the head and arms.
Aneurysms occur because of molecular and connective tissue changes in the wall of the aorta. These changes sometimes cause atherosclerosis and other times cystic medical degeneration, or a breakdown of the muscular layer in the aorta.
Ascending aortic aneurysms are the second most common aortic aneurysms, normally found in people in their 60s and 70s.
Risk factors for ascending aortic aneurysms include:
Aortic aneurysms are dangerous because they may overstretch the aorta, causing it to burst and spill blood outside of the aorta.
Because the aorta is the body’s main supplier of blood, a ruptured aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.
The UPMC Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease treats a full range of disorders and diseases affecting the aorta, such as aneurysms and aortic dissection.
In most cases, doctors discover ascending and aortic arch aneurysms during exams or tests for other medical problems.
Most people with ascending aortic aneurysms do not have any symptoms.
Some may experience:
If your doctor suspects an ascending or aortic arch aneurysm during a physical exam, the diagnosis will be confirmed by:
Additional tests, to determine the size and extent of the aneurysm, include:
Testing resultsYour doctor or nurse will tell you when to expect your test results and will call you when they're available.
Aneurysms in the ascending aorta and aortic arch are usually operated on immediately.
UPMC's Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease offers a full range of state-of-the-art treatment strategies for aortic aneurysms.
Aortic aneurysm repair
UPMC's cardiothoracic surgeons routinely perform:
Interested in learning more about heart and vascular treatment?
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