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What Is Aortic Root Dilation?

A diagram of the aorta, including the aortic root.
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  • Written By: Marisa O'Connor
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2014
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Aortic root dilation occurs when the aortic root becomes enlarged. It can be caused by many different factors, including age, connective tissue disorders, and high blood pressure. It can also be caused by infection, trauma, or a breakdown of the proteins in the aortic wall from enzymes. Symptoms of aortic root enlargement include back and abdominal pain, leg pain and numbness due to nerve compression, and clammy skin. This is a very serious condition that can lead to chronic aortic valve regurgitation, and immediate medical attention is required.

Aortic root dilation, as its name suggests, affects the aortic root. The aortic root refers to the area where the aorta, the largest artery in the body, begins. This part of the body is also often called the ascending aorta because it is the ascending portion of an arch shape created by the rest of the aorta. This region naturally assumes a bulb-like shape, caused by an increase in the caliber of blood vessels within the artery walls. When the bulb of the aorta swells beyond normal levels, it is called dilation of the aortic root.

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This condition can be caused by a number of factors. The wear and tear of age on the aortic root, for example, has been linked to dilation. High blood pressure can also lead to an enlarged aorta. This symptom may also be caused by Marfan's syndrome or other disorders of the body's connective tissues. Other conditions that can lead to a dilated aortic root are syphilis and autoimmune diseases, where the body's immune system attacks its own cells.

Other causes of aortic root dilation include infection. Damage to tissue caused by infection and inflammation can cause an enlarged aortic root. It can also be caused by birth defects, where there was an insufficient protein construction of the aortic wall. It might also be the result of trauma to the general region of the artery or a progressive deterioration of the proteins of the aortic wall by enzymes.

Aortic root dilation has a wide variety of symptoms that vary with each case. Back and abdominal pain are frequent symptoms of a dilated aortic root. If the enlargement causes compression of nearby nerve roots, it can result in leg pain or numbness. Other symptoms might include stress and anxiety, rapid heart rate, as well as nausea and vomiting.

Chronic aortic valve regurgitation can be caused by aortic root dilation. A healthy aortic root is separated from the left ventricle of the heart by the aortic valve. The valve creates a seal, which opens to allow the flow of filtered blood from the left ventricle and shuts tightly to ensure a one-way stream of blood. When the walls of the aortic root stretch because of enlargement, they can stretch out the tissue of the aortic valves. When the valves are stretched out, they cannot snap shut and cannot create the seal that normally prevents blood from leaking back into the heart.

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Animandel
Post 1

The article says that high blood pressure can lead to aortic root dilation. Does this mean I should be more concerned about eventually needing heart surgery since I have a history of hypertension in my family?

I am on no medication, but my blood pressure has measured a bit above normal on occasion.

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