The aortic arch is the portion of the main artery that bends between the ascending and descending aorta. It leaves the heart and ascends, then descends back to create the arch. The aorta distributes blood from the left ventricle of the heart to the rest of the body. Certain complications of the aorta may ultimately lead to blocked blood vessels. These blockages restrict blood flow to the rest of the body, which can eventually result in swelling and even an aneurysm. The conditions associated with the aortic arch are:
- Atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the heart
- Aortic arch syndrome, a group of symptoms that are linked to structural problems with the arteries that branch off from the aorta
- Aortic birth defects
- Coartacation of the aorta (narrowing of the aortic arch)
- Takayasu’s arteritis, which can cause stroke, heart attack, or other damage
It is difficult for physicians to diagnose complications with the aortic arch prior to the restricting of the blood vessels. Magnetic resonance imaging is one type of test used by doctors to determine the presence of aortic complications. This involves the use of magnetic fields to produce pictures of the heart. Echocardiography involves the use of sound waves to gain images of the heart. Treatments for complications of the aortic arch include beta-blockers, smoking cessation, ACE inhibitors, diet changes, and Dacron graft surgery.