Image shows an aorta wrapping around the heart.

What is Thoracic Aortic Disease?

The aorta is the largest artery in the body, that pumps blood away from the heart. It is shaped like a candy cane with the "short" end near the heart. Thoracic Aortic Disease is an aneurysm, dissection, or rupture of any part of the aorta in the chest. If left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, can be extremely life threatening.

Ritter Rules

The Ritter Rules were created to educate how to recognize, treat and prevent thoracic aortic dissection. Read the rules. Save a life.

Now what?

Aneurysm vs Dissection

A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in any part of the aorta in the chest. Aneurysms are a serious problem because they can tear or rupture if not properly diagnosed and clinical managed. Imaging is the only way to identify an aneurysm.

  • Most aneurysms have NO symptoms until they dissect or get extremely large.

A thoracic aortic dissection is a tear in the wall of the aorta in the chest. Blood begins to flow within the layers of the artery which decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients available for the organs of the body. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical for survival.

  • Sudden onset of sharp, severe chest pain (described as “sharp, tearing”)
  • Fainting
  • A sudden increase or decrease in blood pressure