Risk Factors Associated with Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms

Previously published in Examiner

Part 2 of the Thoracic aortic aneurysm series

The Montreal Neurological Institute is a world renown research center and hospital specializing in the diseases of the brain.

One of the scariest conditions to think about is having a brain aneurysm. Many Montrealers automatically think death when they think aneurysm, but how many people actually know what an aneurysm is?

The risk factors associated with a thoracic aortic aneurysm include:
Tobacco use
The longer and more you smoke, the more at risk you become for developing this type of aneurysm.
High blood pressure
Hypertension damages the blood vessels and therefore puts you at risk
Plaque build-up in the arteries
Age ‘” this condition usually affects people who are 60 years of age and older.
Men are more prone to developing a thoracic aortic aneurysm, but they are more likely to rupture women get them.
Caucasians are more at risk than other races.

Family history

People who have family histories of aneurysms are at a double risk for developing an aneurysm at a younger age and having rupturing aneurysms as well.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm: Diagnosis, Open Heart Surgery and Medication

Many of us worry about aneurysms as we associate them with heart disease and stroke. Often time however, they take us by surprise because there are no symptoms and once the aneurysm ruptures it can be fatal.

Complications stemming from a thoracic aortic aneurysm include: Ruptures which could result in life-threatening internal bleeding
Intense sudden and continual pain in the chest, back or abdomen
Sweating, dizziness and clammy skin
Fast pulse
Low blood pressure
Shortness of breathless
Difficulty in speaking
Blood clots that can break away, preventing the flow of blood to the legs, toes, abdominal organs or brain.
Paralysis to one side of the body
Loss of consciousness

Go to the ER immediately should you experience any one of these symptoms.

When your doctor suspects you have a thoracic aortic aneurysm he or she will send you for some tests to confirm the suspicion.

Screening and diagnoses for a thoracic aortic aneurysm :

Chest X-ray


The echocardiogram functions by sound waves to monitor the rhythm of the heart. It will monitor the functioning of the heart valves and heart chamber. Sometimes a transesophageal echocardiogram is used. This device is a tube that goes down the esophagus to see the images of the sound waves within the body.