About Aortic Root Aneurysms
The aorta is the large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The aortic root is the section of the aorta closest to and attached to the heart.
The aortic root consists of the aortic valve and the openings for the coronary arteries (the coronary ostia). The aortic valve has three flaps (or cusps) surrounded by a fibrous ring (the annulus).
An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of the aorta. If an aneurysm develops in the aortic root, the aorta can dilate and the aortic valve can leak.
If the aneurysm continues to expand, it can rupture. The layers of the aortic wall can also separate (aortic dissection). This can cause life-threatening internal bleeding.
Aortic root aneurysms, like other aortic aneurysms, can be caused by atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries." In atherosclerosis, the buildup of fat and cholesterol causes the aortic wall to break down and become weak.
Aortic root aneurysms are also often found in patients with Marfan Syndrome and other genetic disorders characterized by weakened connective tissues.