Have you ever wondered how amazing the human body is? Our body is made up of several complex body functions and even up till now, scientists and researchers are still doing investigation and discovering what was unknown in the past for the sake of better quality of life. Regular health screening can help humans to detect disease at its early stage and to take protective measures against disease that is preventable. In this article, we will be talking more about aorta and what causes problems with it.
Firstly, what exactly is the aorta? Aorta is the main artery or blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart and flows throughout the entire body. It is also the largest artery in the body. The aorta begins from the left ventricle of the heart and extends up towards the head and into the chest to form an arch before continuing downwards into the abdomen and ends at the pelvis. Simply said, aorta is a cane-shaped vessel that carries oxygenated blood to the body.
There are several causes that could lead to problems in the aorta. Common causes are:
1) Heart defect present at birth (congenital heart defect) such as missing valve, extra or fused valve
2) Advanced age causing change to the heart structures
3) Family history with aorta problems
4) Other cardiovascular disease such as heart disease or history of stroke
5) High blood pressure
6) High blood cholesterol leading to build-up of fats in forms of plaque around the aorta and other blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
7) Genetic conditions such as Marfan’s syndrome
8) Inflamed arteries such as vasculitis
9) Inflammation to the lining of the heart chambers and the valves
10) History of rheumatic fever
11) History of radiation therapy to the chest such as from cancer treatment
12) Traumatic injury such as from car accidents
13) Present of chronic kidney disease
14) Currently a smoker or previous history of smoking
Since there are quite a number of causes leading to aorta problems, it can be difficult for a person to fully understand if they have aorta problems. Knowing symptoms relating to it can greatly help a person to get urgent medical advice and treatment. Common symptoms caused by aorta problems are:
1) Chest pain or feeling tight in the chest
4) Easily fatigue even after small brief activity
5) Irregular heartbeat
6) Shortness of breath especially after vigorous activity or when taking rest
7) Stomach pain that does not go away
8) Lower back pain that does not subside
9) A pulsing sensation like heartbeat in the stomach
10) Children that do not gain weight even after eating a lot of food or children that does not eat enough
Below are examples of aorta problems that is commonly diagnosed by healthcare professionals:
1) Aortic aneurysm- A weakened area causing balloon-like bulge in the aorta.
2) Aortic dissection- A tear to the inner layer of the aorta causes the blood to enter it and further separates the inner and middle layers of the aortic walls.
3) Aortic valve stenosis- Narrowing of the aortic valve opening due to the thick and stiff or fuses from the flap of the aortic valve.
4) Aortic valve regurgitation- The aortic valve is unable to close properly and causing leakage of blood through the aortic valve or some backwards flows of blood from the aorta into the left ventricle.
Aorta problems can lead to various complications when left untreated. Hence, when a person exhibits symptoms relating to aorta problems, it is best to get medical advice as some aorta problems may actually be life-threatening.
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