Thoracic aortic aneurysm: Condition that killed football writer Grant Wahl during Qatar World Cup

Source: The post is based on the article “Thoracic aortic aneurysm: Condition that killed football writer Grant Wahl during Qatar World Cup” published in Indian Express on 15th December 2022

What is the News?

The American football writer Grant Wahl died last week due to an “ascending thoracic aortic aneurysm” a weakening of the blood vessel that often goes undetected. 

What is Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a localized weakening of the wall of a blood vessel which causes the vessel to bulge in that area — as a result of which the vessel may widen to more than 50% of its usual diameter. Aneurysms are more commonly seen in arteries than in veins.

The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. It is also the body’s largest blood vessel. An aortic aneurysm is a weakening and bulging in a portion of the aorta.

Thoracic refers to that section of the blood vessel that passes through the chest.

Aneurysms occur more often in the portion of the aorta that runs through the abdomen rather than the chest (causing what is called an “abdominal aortic aneurysm”).

An aneurysm increases in size over time and the wall of the blood vessel gets progressively weaker in that area. The vessel may ultimately burst or separate, triggering a bleeding rush that can be life-threatening, and potentially lethal.

What are the causes of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

Among the possible causes of thoracic aortic aneurysm are (i) degenerative disease that causes breakdown of the aortic wall tissue; (ii) genetic disorders; (iii) family history; (iv) vasculitis or inflammation of the arteries; and (v) atherosclerosis or the build-up of plaque on the walls of the artery. In rare cases, an infection can also trigger an aneurysm.

What are the symptoms of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

The symptoms may include (i) pain in the jaw, neck, chest, or upper back; (ii) wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath (due to pressure on the trachea); (iii) hoarseness (due to pressure on the vocal cords); and (iv) trouble swallowing due to pressure on the oesophagus.

These symptoms are not unique to thoracic aortic aneurysms, which may delay focused medical attention.

Is there a treatment for Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

When aneurysms are caught and treated early, they can be repaired.

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