Aortic Valve Stenosis

Aortic stenosis means your aortic valve does not open widely enough to allow adequate blood flow from your heart to your aorta.

At the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, we offer the full range of treatments for aortic stenosis including surgical and minimally invasive valve replacement. In fact, we were one of the first medical centers to perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) — a minimally invasive treatment for severe aortic stenosis.

Contact the UPMC Center for Aortic Valve Disease

Request an appointment online, call 412-647-4745, or email us.

What Is an Aortic Root Aneurysm?

An aneurysm occurs when a blood vessel stretches or bulges in one place. An aortic root aneurysm is an aneurysm that occurs specifically in the beginning, or root, of the aorta. The aorta is the body's largest blood vessel; it transports blood to the body from the heart. An aortic root aneurysm is also called a dilated aortic root.

Aortic root aneurysms risk factors and causes

Certain disorders increase risk for aortic root aneurysms, including connective tissue disorders or hereditary disorders such as:

  • Marfan syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Loeys-Dietz syndrome

Autoimmune or inflammatory diseases affecting the arteries also raise risk. These diseases include:

  • Kawasaki disease
  • Takayasu arteritis
  • Behcet's disease
  • Giant cell arteritis

Other medical conditions and lifestyle factors that increase risk are:

  • Infections around the heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Smoking

Aortic root aneurysms can also result from congenital heart defects or from blunt trauma (an extreme blow) to the chest.

Aortic root aneurysms complications

The aortic root contains a valve that allows blood to pass from the heart to the aorta. This valve is pushed open when the heart pumps blood out. The valve then closes to prevent blood from flowing back in from the aorta.

When an aneurysm stretches the aorta, the valve is unable to close completely. Because the valve remains open, blood that has been pumped into the aorta can flow back into the heart. This causes several problems:

  • The coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle, do not receive enough blood from the aorta
  • Too little blood is pumped to the rest of the body's organs
  • The aneurysm can dissect, which means that the layers of the blood vessel can begin to separate
  • The aneurysm can rupture, which means that it can burst open and leak blood quickly into the body
  • Blood clots can form in the area of the aneurysm and travel to other parts of the body, including the brain, lungs, and heart

Aortic root aneurysms prevention

Though some people are at higher risk for this condition, they will not necessarily develop an aortic root aneurysm. Individuals with a higher risk should focus on healthy lifestyle choices, eating heart-healthy foods, and not smoking.

If you have been diagnosed with an aortic root aneurysm, your condition should be monitored regularly by a knowledgeable doctor. Individuals diagnosed with aortic root aneurysms should also monitor their blood pressure with their physician. Strict blood pressure control is essential for the treatment of aortic root aneurysms.

You should also ask your doctor if you can exercise, and how much. A dilated aortic root does not necessarily rule out exercise, but your doctor will advise you on the type of exercise you may do.

Why Choose UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute for Aortic Root Aneurysms Care?

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute is one of the world's premier centers for comprehensive cardiovascular care.

We use a team approach with every patient we treat.

We treat patients facing the most complex heart and vascular conditions, and advance the science and medicine in this area through research.

Contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

Request an appointment online, call 412-876-2484, or email us.

Aortic Root Aneurysms Symptoms and Diagnosis

Aortic root aneurysms symptoms

Aortic root aneurysms frequently have no symptoms. In fact, doctors often discover this condition by chance when taking an x-ray or CT scan for a different reason. Some possible symptoms of the aneurysm are:

  • Dull chest pain
  • Chest pain during exercise
  • Shortness of breath

If the aneurysm dissects or ruptures, symptoms include:

  • Sharp chest pain, sometimes also felt in the back
  • Extreme shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fainting/loss of consciousness

An aneurysm dissection or rupture is a medical emergency.

Diagnosing aortic root aneurysms

This type of aneurysm is often discovered on an x-ray or CT scan taken for another reason.However, people with certain diseases may be screened for this condition if they develop any symptoms at all.

This condition can be diagnosed by x-ray or ultrasound of the heart.

If either of these tests indicates a possible aneurysm, additional tests such as an MRI or CT angiogram may be performed to measure the size of the aneurysm.

Contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

Request an appointment online, call 412-876-2484, or email us.

Aortic Root Aneurysms: Treatment

Need for treatment depends on the size of this aneurysm and on other medical conditions you may have.

The aortic root dilation, or bulge, may grow larger, but it will not shrink on its own.

If your aneurysm is 50 percent larger than the rest of the artery, surgery may be required.

Doctors usually recommend surgery when an aortic root dilation reaches 5 centimeters. If the aneurysm is not yet this large, and you are not having complications, your doctor may suggest waiting to see if the aneurysm is growing.

However, your risk of rupture may be higher, even for a small aneurysm, if you have a connective tissue disorder or other medical condition.

This type of aneurysm can be treated by rebuilding the aortic root, as well as the aortic valves (if damaged), or by using grafts in the vessel.

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with this condition, it is important to understand the risks of waiting, and the risks of treatment. The risks of surgically repairing an aortic root aneurysm are small if the aneurysm is not causing complications. If the aneurysm has dissected, the risks of surgery are greater. A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency that may be fatal if not treated immediately.

Contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

Request an appointment online, call 412-876-2484, or email us.

Aortic Root Aneurysms: Resources

Contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

Request an appointment online, call 412-876-2484, or email us.