Overview

What Is Thoracic Aortic Disease?

Types for AneurysmsThe aorta is the largest artery in the body, extending from the heart down through the chest (thoracic aorta) and into the abdomen (abdominal aorta). It carries oxygenated blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. Thoracic aortic disease includes aortic aneurysms and dissections, atherosclerotic disease, infections and traumatic injuries.

Ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections represent life-threatening emergencies that require immediate medical attention. Thoracic aortic aneurysms affect approximately 15,000 people in the United States each year.

Anatomy of the thoracic aorta

Aorta with its major branchesTo understand thoracic aortic disease, it is helpful to understand the parts of the thoracic aorta:

  • Aortic valve
  • Aortic root
  • Ascending thoracic aorta
  • Transverse aortic arch
  • Descending aortic arch
  • Thoraco-abdominal aorta
  • Abdominal aorta

Six niche centers within the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please call 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:

Referring Physicians
Open communication and cooperation with referring physicians is a critical component of achieving high-quality care and minimizing the challenges that come with treating cardiovascular conditions. For physician-to-physician consultation regarding the best patient care, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).


Six niche centers within the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, please call 847.53.HEART (534.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


Six niche centers within the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, please call 630.232.0280

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


Related Resources

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm and Aortic Dissection: A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of the aorta resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning of the vessel’s normal width.