Ascending Aortic Aneurysm | Repair | MedStar Health

A type of bulge in the aorta that may have a genetic cause

An ascending aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of a specific part of the aorta, the body’s largest artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Aneurysms can form blood clots, block blood flow, and cause the aorta to rupture or press on nearby body parts.

These types of aneurysms are located just above the heart and just before the bend in the aorta known as the aortic arch. They are a type of thoracic aortic aneurysm.

Our vascular surgeons have a great deal of experience treating aneurysms. Our Complex Aortic Center is one of the few in the mid-Atlantic region to offer procedures for complex repairs and minimally invasive aneurysm repair.


Most people will not have symptoms unless there is a rupture, at which point you will experience:

  • Clammy, sweaty skin

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Sharp pain in the upper back

If you believe an aneurysm has ruptured, call 911 immediately.

Before a rupture, you might have symptoms that cause:

  • Coughing or hoarseness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Pain in your chest, jaw, neck, or arms

  • Shortness of breath


The most common causes are smoking and high blood pressure. You’re also at increased risk as you age due to a buildup of plaque in your arteries, known as atherosclerosis.

Certain genetic conditions can increase your risk. Talk to your doctor about genetic testing if you or a family member has one of these conditions:


Diagnosing a potential heart or vascular condition is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.


Careful monitoring, medication, and lifestyle modifications may be enough to treat an ascending aortic aneurysm without surgery. For more complex cases, we recommend more advanced treatments.

Aortic Dissection Treatment
Treating an aortic dissection can include medication, minimally invasive procedures, or open surgery.

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.