Heart Disease Expert Forum
Re: Thoracic aortic aneurysm
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Re: Thoracic aortic aneurysm

Posted By CCF CARDIO MD - CRC on January 23, 1999 at 13:36:16:

In Reply to: Thoracic aortic aneurysm posted by Jan on January 21, 1999 at 18:49:18:






I've just been diagnosed with a thoracic aneurysm in my descending aorta.  It's  
4 cm in size.  This was diagnosed by CT scan after being found on x-ray.  I'm 43
yrs old and in fairly decent health despite smoking and having asthma.  I've been referred to a vascular surgeon
but may have to wait awhile to be seen.  Is surgery necessary with an aneurysm
this size?  Would it be dangerous to wait?  Any help with info would be
appreciated as I don't know what to expect. Thanks, Jan
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
Dear Jan,
Thank you for your question.  An aneurysm is a dilation of a blood vessel.  They can occur anywhere in the body and are a result of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and high blood pressure.  Smoking also contributes significantly.  The areas where they can be dangerous are in the aorta.  The risk is of an aneurysm is rupture resulting in sudden death.  This risk increases as the size of the aneurysm increases.  In general when the aneurysm is 4-6 cm an operation is indicated to repair the aneurysm.  This is major surgery but is usually well tolerated.  For those unable to undergo surgery new stents are being developed that can be placed in the aorta through a small hole in the leg.
Medication may be used to help control the blood pressure before surgery.  And of course quitting smoking is a must.  Good luck to you.

I hope you find this information useful.  Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only.  Only your physician can provide specific diagnoses and therapies.  Please feel free to write back with additional questions.
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at www.ccf.org/heartcenter.  The Heart Center website contains a directory of the cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your cardiac problem.

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