What is aortitis?

Aortitis refers to a medical condition in which the aorta or the main artery of the heart becomes inflamed. This inflammation is a serious condition that requires medical attention as it can lead to many other health complications. There are various causes for aortitis, but there are many treatment methods available for those suffering from this condition.

Inflammation of the aorta usually occurs as a result of a viral or bacterial infection. Trauma to the heart or artery can also cause aortitis. Other culprits include immune diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Aortitis can lead to dilation of the aorta, resulting in insufficient blood flow that triggers low blood pressure and reduced heart rate. Over time, this makes the heart work harder and can lead to cardiac arrest. Cardiovascular diseases can also cause inflammation of the aorta, as well as non-infectious vasculitis, a serious complication of inflammation of the aorta.

There are three main phases for inflammatory aortitis. Phase 1 is characterized by low-grade fever, weight loss, and a feeling of fatigue. As the condition progresses to Phase 2, the patient may begin to experience chest pain and heart tenderness. By the time the condition progresses to Phase 3, also known as the stage of fibrosis, when actual aortic dilation begins to take place.

In patients who have symptoms of aortitis, particularly when they have been found to have one of the conditions listed above, a doctor may recommend magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and computed tomography angiography (CTA) of the heart. Blood tests will also be taken. This will help doctors determine if there are elevated acute phase reactants.

Once the diagnosis of aortitis has been reached, corticosteroids such as prednisone are often prescribed for a period of one to three months. This is meant to reduce inflammation of the aorta. Most patients respond well to this treatment, but if they do not, additional measures are needed and immunosuppressants may be prescribed. This is typical in cases of infectious aortitis and is a common treatment for aortitis.

In the event that the aorta has been severely damaged as a result of this condition, surgical repair may be necessary. This procedure involves inserting stents into the aorta to reduce swelling. In less severe cases, angioplasty may be recommended as an alternative. The prognosis for patients with inflammation of the aorta is usually good, especially if the patient does not have cardiovascular disease. The key to successfully combating inflammation of the aorta is early diagnosis and prompt treatment.

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