thoracic aorticaneurysm


A thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) is a balloon-shaped bulge in the part of your body’s largest artery, the aorta, that goes through your chest. 

Lots of things can cause a TAA. The most common are traumas such as car accidents and atherosclerosis, or hardening of your arteries. You’re more likely to develop a TAA as you age, if you smoke, if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, if you’re overweight or if you have Marfan syndrome. It’s also more likely to occur if you have a family history of aneurysms.

Most TAAs develop in the section of your aorta closest to your heart. They sometimes prevent the valve between your heart and aorta from closing, which lets blood leak back into your heart.


A thoracic aortic aneurysm can grow slowly for years without causing symptoms. If one gets large enough, it can press on nearby organs or block blood flow and trigger pain in your back, chest, jaw or neck, or coughing, hoarseness or difficulty breathing.

Sometimes, a TAA can make the layers of your aorta tear and separate, creating internal bleeding. Doctors call this aortic dissection. Symptoms include:

  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Tearing or ripping pain in your chest
  • Weakness


If you have any symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm, tell your doctor right away. It’s important to get treatment quickly to protect yourself from a rupture. 

To diagnose a TAA, your doctor may order tests such as:

services & treatment

If the aneurysm is small, your doctor may monitor you every 6 to 12 months. If it’s large and causing symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of rupture or dissection. If you have a dissection, you’ll need medication or surgery such as:

why Aurora?

You're at the Heart of our Care 

Aurora Health Care offers coordinated care for preventing, diagnosing and treating heart and vascular disease. World-renowned heart and vascular specialists diagnose and treat all types of cardiovascular conditions and disorders, using the most advanced state-of-the-art tools and technologies available today. 

We established the Center for Marfan and Aortic Disorders to diagnose and treat complex conditions involving the aorta. You can count on personalized, compassionate care from experts in diagnosing, evaluating and treating TAAs. To learn more, call 414-385-2400 or toll free 855-229-2400.

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