The aorta—the main artery—carries blood from the heart through the aortic valve and connects with other arteries to deliver oxygenated blood to the brain, muscles and cells. When a problem with the aorta occurs, the heart and the body’s blood supply can be threatened. The aorta can become damaged or weak, causing it to bulge (aneurysm), tear (dissection) or burst (rupture). These conditions often lead to life-threatening emergencies that require immediate medical care.
Besides advanced age, people at highest risk for aortic problems include males and those who smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, as well as people with genetic conditions such as Marfan Syndrome.
The Aortic Disease Center at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Heart & Vascular Center provides collaborative, multi-specialty care for patients with complex aortic diseases and acute aortic emergencies. Our Center quickly and efficiently assembles a highly trained, multidisciplinary team representing cardiovascular medicine, cardiac surgery, vascular and endovascular surgery, vascular imaging, anesthesia and emergency medicine. These physicians and surgeons work in tandem—and with referring physicians—to offer accurate diagnoses and life-saving medical, endovascular and minimally invasive surgical interventions.
Time is of the essence with aortic conditions. Our Center’s multidisciplinary Acute Aortic Rapid Response Team provides 24-hour emergency-level response. We assemble in minutes in the BWH emergency room where patients are evaluated. From there they are moved to our operating room or intensive care unit for recommended treatment.
The personalized treatment plans we develop reflect the whole patient. To get a total picture, we review electronic medical records, examine previous imaging studies and consider co-existing conditions. Depending on a patient’s needs, our team grows as we bring in additional medical expertise. This clinical skill is enhanced by the team’s access to the best in cardiovascular imaging and medical technology at our state-of-the-art Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, including one of the region’s most advanced hybrid operating rooms.
Patients with aortic disease often require lifelong management. Communicating with referring doctors, the Aortic Disease Center follows patients after treatment to ensure that they receive comprehensive future care, including genetic screening for families of patients with genetic disorders. Same-day outpatient appointments with multiple specialists are available at the Watkins Cardiovascular Clinic within the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center.
To make an appointment with the Aortic Disease Center, call (617) 732-7678.
Physicians can make a referral to the Aortic Disease Center by calling (617) 732-7678.
Watch this surgical video with Edwin Gravereaux, MD, performing an endovascular repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
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