Aortic Aneurysm

This information is useful for adults
A couple playing golf, possibly after aortic aneurysm surgery
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Yale Medicine is world renowned for the clinical care of patients with aortic aneurysm.
  • Our doctors are leaders in aortic aneurysm research, pioneering such breakthroughs as a blood test that could change the way people are screened.
  • Insights from our large aortic aneurysm database have impacted the way aneurysms are treated. New discoveries are emerging all the time.

There is a reason aortic aneurysm is known as “the silent killer.” Most people who have an aneurysm have no symptoms at all. Most only discover they have an aneurysm incidentally during imaging for another problem. This poses a real danger because aortic aneurysms can grow in size, and when they are not treated they can dissect or rupture without warning.

“With aneurysm disease, the first symptom is death,” says John Elefteriades, MD, a Yale Medicine heart surgeon and director of the Yale Center for Advanced Thoracic Aortic Disease at Yale New Haven Hospital’s Aortic Institute, part of the hospital’s Heart and Vascular Center, as well as an internationally renowned pioneer in his field.

The good news is that an aortic aneurysm that is diagnosed early can be monitored and, when it grows dangerous, treated successfully. An important question to ask yourself is whether you are at high risk for an aneurysm. “If you have a family member who had an aneurysm anywhere in the body, or a family member who died suddenly—especially at a young age or without a history of heart disease—please ask your doctor to check you for aneurysm,” Dr. Elefteriades says. 

The aorta is the main artery in the body. It is shaped like a candy cane, with the “ascending” rising up from the heart, the “arch” curving toward the back, and the “stick” descending in front of the backbone into the abdominal area, where it gradually tapers down in size. The aorta’s job is to carry oxygenated blood from the heart, down into the chest and torso, and to supply that blood to 19 major arteries. 

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.