Symptoms, Causes, Prevention & Early Detection of Aortic Disease
Symptoms of Aortic Disease
Sudden stabbing, radiating pain, fainting, difficulty breathing, and sometimes sudden weakness on one side of the body could suggest an aortic event. Clammy skin, nausea and vomiting, or even shock are also common accompanying symptoms. Aortic disease can also mirror symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain or jaw pain. The aorta spans from above the heart all the way down to below the navel, so symptoms of pain can occur at any place along the torso.
Causes of Aortic Disease
Genetics and family history of aortic disease contribute significantly to the risk of developing an aortic aneurysm or dissection. In addition to genetic factors and age, people who experience the conditions below have an increased risk of aortic disease.
- High blood pressure – the increased force of blood can weaken the artery walls
- Marfan syndrome or other genetic conditions – can cause problems with the body’s ability to make healthy connective tissue
- High cholesterol or atherosclerosis – a buildup of plaque may increase inflammation in and around the aorta and other blood vessels
- Inflamed arteries: – the body’s blood vessels can become inflamed due to trauma from car accidents or certain diseases like vasculitis
- Smoking – people with a history of smoking are three to five times more likely to develop an aortic aneurysm
Prevention & Early Detection of Aortic Disease
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine, recommends that men aged 65–75 years who have ever smoked, be screened for abdominal aortic aneurysms, even if they have no symptoms. Screenings are done by a noninvasive vascular ultrasound and is completely covered by Medicare for qualifying individuals.
People living with aortic disease, or who have a family history of aortic disease should be proactive with their health and report any symptoms immediately. It is important to get regular check-ups, and always take care of your overall heart health.