An aortic aneurysm is a bulging section in the aorta, the main artery that carries blood from your heart into your chest and abdomen. An aneurysm that grows too large may burst and cause bleeding. An aortic aneurysm rupture can be life-threatening.
Types of Aortic Aneurysm
- Thoracic aortic aneurysms occur in the chest and are usually caused by high blood pressure. Symptoms include pain in your chest or upper back, difficulty breathing and trouble swallowing.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur in the abdomen and are usually caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Symptoms include pain in your back, buttocks, groin or legs.
Men who have smoked and people with a family history of aneurysms are at greater risk of developing one.
Aneurysms can develop before causing symptoms, so screenings are recommended for people from the age of 65 to 75.
Treatment for Aortic Aneurysm at RUSH
Experts at RUSH draw on their many years of practice to diagnose and treat aortic aneurysms. RUSH welcomes patients seeking second opinions.
There are two primary treatments for aortic aneurysms:
- Statins, a type of medication, can help lower your cholesterol and reduce the amount of plaque buildup in your arteries.
- Beta blockers may be used to slow down the rate of aneurysm growth and risk of rupture ("bursting").
- You may be a good candidate for endovascular surgery, a minimally invasive procedure in which your doctor inserts a small tube into the artery to reinforce weak spots. This approach can be used to treat both types of aortic aneurysms and is often performed without incisions, using only a needle stick.
- If you aren't able to have endovascular surgery, your doctor may use open surgery to repair your aneurysm and replace the damaged artery with a long synthetic tube called a graft.
RUSH Excellence in Aortic Aneurysm Care
- Among the best in the U.S. for heart care: U.S. News & World Report ranked RUSH University Medical Center among the best in the nation for cardiology.
- Nationally ranked for cardiac bypass surgery: The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has designated thoracic surgery at RUSH a three-star program — the society’s highest rating — for coronary bypass graft surgery.
- Minimally invasive options: Many people with aortic aneurysm are able to have it treated with endovascular surgery, a minimally invasive procedure. This means a safer procedure, especially if you are considered high-risk for open surgery, and a faster, more comfortable recovery.