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Aortic disease is the 13th leading cause of death in Western Countries. In California alone, 43,000 patients die annually from aortic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is greater than the aggregate number of people who die annually from breast cancer, homicides, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and motor vehicle accidents.

The aorta is the largest artery in the body. Oxygen-rich blood enters the aorta and the heart pumps the blood out of the aorta, where it travels to the rest of the body.

When affected by disease, the aorta can split (dissection) or dilate (aneurysm) and in either case, the rupture may have fatal results.

Three types of aortic aneurysms can be classified as:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysms
  • Thoracic aneurysms
  • Thoracic abdominal aneurysms

A variety of diseases and conditions can cause damage to the aorta and put patients at life-threatening risk.

Those conditions include:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Genetic conditions (such as Marfan Syndrome)
  • Connective tissue disorders (such as Ehler-Danlos disorder, polychondritis, scleroderma, osteogenesis imperfecta, polycystic kidney disease and Turners Syndrome)
  • Injury