Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

The aorta is the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart and on to other arteries that distribute it throughout the body. A thoracic aortic aneurysm occurs when a “balloon” forms in a weakened area of the aorta wall within the chest cavity. The weakened vessel wall is often caused by atherosclerosis. Thoracic aneurysm may occur in three parts of the thoracic aorta: the ascending aorta, the descending aorta or the aortic arch. A minor thoracic aortic aneurysm may have little effect on an individual, but can also be life-threatening and fatal if it bursts and causes severe internal bleeding. Symptoms of thoracic aortic aneurysm may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart failure
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Upper-chest and back pain
  • A dull pain near the breastbone or upper back