What Causes Enlarged Aortic Root?

Aortic root branches out from the heart at the top and forms the foundation for the largest blood vessel in the human system – aorta. The heart pumps blood through the roots and into the aorta through the valve to supply blood to different parts of the body. The aorta has four segments and several arteries through which the blood passes to different regions of the human system.

Enlargement of aortic root disrupts the procedure of smooth blood flow from the heart to the arteries and the different regions of the body.

Causes for enlargement

The following are the causes of enlargement of aortic root:

1. Atherosclerosis – also called as hardening of the arteries, the situation enlarges the root because of the buildup of plaque within the walls of the artery. The accumulation reduces the flexibility and exerts excessive pressure, resulting in weakness and bulge. Increase in the content of cholesterol and high blood pressure are major risk factors for hardening of the arteries.

2. Genetic disorder – people born with the Marfan syndrome, which is a genetic disorder that disturbs the connecting tissues in the body, suffer from an enlarged aortic root. Due to the genetic disorder, the aorta has a weak wall making it further susceptible to aneurysms. People born with the Marfan syndrome have varying physical traits such as deformed breastbone, tall stature, long arms, and eye problems.

3. Other health conditions – other health conditions include inflammatory diseases such as the presence of giant cell arteritis, which elevates the risk of occurrence of thoracic aortic aneurysms.

4. Problem with aortic valve – when there is a problem with the aortic valve, people will experience an enlarged aortic root. The case holds true for those born with the bicuspid aortic wall, where only two cusps are available within the valve as opposed to three.

5. Infections – untreated infections are also responsible for the development of enlargement of aortic roots. The diseases include salmonella or syphilis.

6. Injuries – traumatic injuries, such as accidents, develop aneurysms along with enlarged aortic roots.


As it is difficult to diagnose the presence of an enlarged root of the aorta, understanding the signs will be helpful in such cases. It is because the growth occurs slowly over a period and a person notices its presence only when there is a rupture. The rupture of an enlarged aortic root is life-threatening. Symptoms include:

1. Tenderness

2. Numbness to one side of the body

3. Back pain

4. Cough

5. Shortness of breath

6. Vomiting

7. Blurred vision

Seeking medical assistance

Seeking medical aid will be a difficult task, as the symptoms appear when there is a rupture. Nonetheless, the following points will be helpful in finding immediate help:

1. Pain that is sharp and appears suddenly in the upper back and descends slowly

2. Pain in arms, jaw, neck, and chest

3. Breathing with great difficulty

If a person has a family history of aneurysms or Marfan syndrome, the doctor will recommend CT scan, MRI scan, echocardiography, or x-ray to examine the enlarged aortic root. The results will also be helpful in determining the location and the shape.


Treating an enlarged roots of the aorta varies from one patient to another. It is because of the shape of the occurrence, overall health, gender, age, risks associated with the treatment, the presence of cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking habits.

The doctor considers all these aspects to provide accurate treatment to ensure that there is a reduction in the enlargement of the aortic root.


The causes behind the enlargement of aortic root are high blood pressure, increased cholesterol content, family history of aneurysms, Marfan syndrome, trauma, infections, and problematic aortic valve. Learning about the symptoms will be helpful in approaching the specialist at the right time to halt the enlargement and prevent the occurrence of an aneurysm.