Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm


    In News 

    The soccer journalist Grant Wahl collapsed and died suddenly while covering the World Cup in Qatar.

    •  The autopsy found that Wahl had an “ascending thoracic aortic aneurysm.

    About Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

    • An aneurysm is a localised weakening of the wall of a blood vessel, which causes the vessel to bulge in that area — as a result of which the vessel may widen to more than 50 percent of its usual diameter. 
      • Aneurysms are more commonly seen in arteries than in veins.
    • The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body; it is also the body’s largest blood vessel. 
    • An aortic aneurysm is a weakening and bulging in a portion of the aorta; “thoracic” refers to that section of the blood vessel that passes through the chest.


    • Degenerative disease that causes breakdown of the aortic wall tissue
    • Genetic disorders
    • Family history
    • Vasculitis, or inflammation of the arteries
    • Atherosclerosis, or the build-up of plaque on the walls of the artery. 
    • In rare cases, an infection can also trigger an aneurysm.


    • Pain in the jaw, neck, chest, or upper back
    • Wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath (due to pressure on the trachea)
    • Hoarseness (due to pressure on the vocal cords); and
    • Trouble swallowing due to pressure on the oesophagus. 


    • An aneurysm increases in size over time, and the wall of the blood vessel gets progressively weaker in that area. 
      • The vessel may ultimately burst or separate, triggering a bleeding rush that can be life-threatening, and potentially lethal.

    Diagnosis and treatment

    • Treatment may include monitoring the size and rate of growth of the bulge through an MRI or CT, and managing risk factors such as quitting smoking, controlling blood sugar (for diabetics), losing weight (if overweight), and eating healthy. 
    • Surgical intervention may be needed if the aneurysm is large