Aortic Disease Center
A National Leader in Cardiac Care
The specialists at Winthrop’s Aortic Disease Center are dedicated to expertly treating patients with conditions of the thoracic aorta. Our multidisciplinary approach enhances the quality of care as we foster close communication with everyone involved in our patients treatment.
What is the Aorta?
The aorta is the largest artery in the body, originating from the heart's major pumping chamber, the left ventricle, and it carries blood throughout the body through the smaller arteries branching out from it. The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all areas of the body. Major branches of the aorta carry blood to the brain, kidneys, digestive tract and extremities. Diseases which affect the aorta can inhibit blood flow to these vital areas.
Diseases of the aorta
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) / Aortic Plaque
The walls of the aorta are made up of three layers. The inner layer is termed the intima, the middle layer is called the media, and the outer layer is known as the adventitia. These layers give the aorta an elastic property. Over time, as we age, there is a deposit of plaque which occurs. If this process is accelerated, the build-up of fatty deposit can narrow the aorta and its major branches in the extremities. This can lead to peripheral arterial disease, also know as P.A.D.
Weaknesses in a segment of the wall of the aorta can case the segment to budge outward, like a bubble on a bicycle tire. This is called an aneurysm. This vascular out-pouching can occur in various places along the length of the aorta. They can occur in the chest or the abdomen. This is a serious condition and should be followed by a cardiovascular team.
An Aortic Aneurysm can leak and/or rupture. This can be a life threatening emergency. Fortunately, there are screening tests which can be performed to detect this condition early.
Aortic dissection is a potentially life-threatening condition in which there is bleeding between the layers of the aorta itself. This may present suddenly, and is a surgical emergency.