A type of bulge in the aorta that may have a genetic cause
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
An ascending aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of a specific part of the aorta, the body’s largest artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Aneurysms can form blood clots, block blood flow and cause the aorta to rupture or press on nearby body parts.
Ascending aortic aneurysms are located just above the heart and just before the bend in the aorta known as the aortic arch. They are a type of thoracic aortic aneurysm.
Our vascular surgeons have a great deal of experience treating aneurysms. Our Complex Aortic Center is one of the few in the mid-Atlantic region to offer procedures for complex repairs and minimally invasive aneurysm repair.
What are the symptoms of an ascending aortic aneurysm?
Most people will not have symptoms unless there is a rupture, at which point you will experience:
- Clammy, sweaty skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Sharp pain in the upper back
If you believe an aneurysm has ruptured, call 911 immediately.
Before a rupture, an ascending aortic aneurysm may cause:
- Coughing or hoarseness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in your chest, jaw, neck or arms
- Shortness of breath
What are the causes of an ascending aortic aneurysm?
The most common causes of ascending aortic aneurysms are smoking and high blood pressure. You’re also at increased risk as you age due to a buildup of plaque in your arteries, known as atherosclerosis.
Certain genetic conditions can increase your risk of an ascending aortic aneurysm. Talk to your doctor about genetic testing if you or a family member has one of these conditions:
Diagnosing a potential heart or vascular condition is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.
Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.
The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.
Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.
Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.
Careful monitoring, medication and lifestyle modifications may be enough to treat an ascending aortic aneurysm without surgery. For more complex cases, we recommend more advanced treatments.
Treating an aortic dissection can include medication, minimally invasive procedures or open surgery.