The aorta is the largest arterycarrying oxygenated blood away from the heart to all parts of the body. Sometimes this aorta gets enlarged due to the weakness of the artery walls, leading to a condition known as an aneurysm. This aneurysm can develop anywhere along the aorta. A particularly important aneurysm ic called the Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA).
Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAAs)
An aneurysm that occurs in the aorta located in the chest area is known as a thoracic aortic aneurysm. As an aneurysm can lead to a tear in the wall of the artery, it is also called as a thoracic aneurysm and aortic dissection, which leads to life-threatening bleeding.
The artery walls in the aorta weaken and get expanded or bulged. The balloon or bulging of the artery wall may be defined as a fusiform (uniform in shape) or a saccular (appears as lop-sided blister on one side of the aorta) aneurysm. Saccular aneurysm forms in the weakened area of the aorta wall.
Classification of TAAs
TAAs are classified into three groups depending on the location. They are:
- Ascending aortic aneurysms: It is an aneurysm that starts in the ascending aorta and extends proximally as the aortic annulus and distally as the nominated artery. Necrosis is the common cause of this type of TAAs. .
- Descending aortic aneurysms: It is an aneurysm that occurs in the descending aorta and begins beyond the left subclavian artery. Atherosclerosis is the common cause of this type of TAAs.
- Aortic arch aneurysms: As the name implies, these aneurysms occurs in the arch of the aorta. A type of vacuities that cause inflammation of the arteries and atherosclerosis are the common causes for this type of TAAs.
Symptoms of TAAs
TAAs may be asymptomatic or symptomatic. The symptoms may be related to the size, location, and growth rate of an aneurysm. It often grows slowly without any symptoms, making it difficult to detect. If you experience pain with TAAs, then it may be a life-threatening medical emergency.
Symptoms of ascending TAAs include:
- Pain in the chest, neck, and/or back (first symptom for ascending TAAs)
- Swelling of the head, neck, and arms due to a high pressure on the large blood vessels
- Heart failure due to an effect on heart valves (causes blood to back up into the heart)
Symptoms of aortic arch or descending TAAs include:
- Wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath as a result of pressure on the trachea
- Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
- Pressure on the vocal cords causes hoarseness in the voice
- Difficulty swallowing due to pressure on the esophagus
- Pain in the chest and/or back
The symptoms of the TAAs may resemble the other conditions. So, go for a regular health check-up. This can help you get early diagnosis and treatment.