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Heart & Vascular Institute

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Aortic Disease

The aorta is the largest artery in the body. Oxygen-rich blood enters the aorta and the heart pumps the blood out of the aorta where it travels to the rest of the body via the smaller arteries that branch out from it.

When affected by disease, the aorta can split (dissection) or dilate (aneurysm) and in either case, the rupture may have fatal results.

Three types of aortic aneurysms can be classified as:

A variety of diseases and conditions can cause damage to the aorta and put patients at great, life-threatening risk. Those conditions include:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Genetic conditions (such as Marfan Syndrome).
  • Connective tissue disorders (such as Ehler-Danlos disorder, polychondritis, scleroderma, osteogenesis imperfecta, polycystic kidney disease and Turners Syndrome).
  • Injury.

When to Call Your Doctor

Anyone with aortic disease should undergo immediate treatment by an experienced team of cardiovascular specialists and surgeons.

Learn more about the Dana and Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli Center for Aortic Diseases.