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What is an enlarged ascending aorta?

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Quick Answer

Enlargement of the ascending aorta indicates a weakening of the aortic wall, according to Cedars-Sinai. Often, an enlarged ascending aorta is diagnosed as an aneurysm.

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Full Answer

The aorta is the largest artery in the human body, explains WebMD. Measuring approximately a foot in length, the aorta runs from the heart through the abdominal region. The ascending aorta runs upward toward the heart, supplying it with blood.

When the wall of the aorta weakens, an enlargement of the area can occur, says WebMD. Typically, any enlargement measuring less than 4 centimeters is considered non-surgical and can be treated with non-invasive measures, such as beta-blockers and lifestyle changes.

Dilation of the ascending aorta measuring more than 4 centimeters is considered an aneurysm, notes WebMD. Depending on the size, shape and state of the aortic wall, ascending aortic aneurysms often require reparative surgery if the patient is at high risk for rupture. Often, doctors monitor patients closely and pursue non-surgical management of an aneurysm before recommending surgical intervention. All patients with ascending aortic enlargements or aneurysms should closely monitor their blood pressure and stress levels to avoid exacerbating the condition.

A course of treatment for enlargement of the ascending aorta or an ascending aortic aneurysm should be determined with a doctor, recommends Cleveland Clinic. Left untreated, patients run the risk of serious complications, such as aortic dissection, a condition in which the layers of the aorta tear. If caught early and monitored closely, the vast majority of patients have positive outcomes from treatment.

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