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What is a tortuous aorta?

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Quick Answer

A tortuous aorta happens when the largest artery in the body twists in an unnatural and potentially dangerous way, according to InnovateUs. This twisting causes the organs of the body to receive less oxygen and fewer nutrients than they should.

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Patients with a tortuous aorta often has high blood pressure, notes InnovateUs. Additionally, they may also experience atherosclerosis, or hardening of the artery. The condition can push the esophagus out of place, which leads to chest pain, according to the National Institutes of Health. A sliding hiatal hernia exacerbates this condition, and occurs when the top of the stomach and the esophagus both protrude through the hole in the diaphragm called the hiatus.

Surgery can repair tortuous aorta, says InnovateUs. In one procedure, the surgeon resects the twisted part of the aorta and sutures the healthy ends together. The doctor may also prescribed medication to treat high blood pressure. Another way to treat a tortuous aorta is through balloon angioplasty, in which the physician places a catheter into the artery, threads a balloon inside it and inflates the balloon. A stent holds the balloon in position, and once in place allows for easier blood flow though the dilated artery.

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