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Aortic arch syndrome

Subclavian artery occlusive syndrome; Carotid artery occlusion syndrome; Subclavian steal syndrome; Vertebral-basilar artery occlusive syndrome; Takayasu disease; Pulseless disease

Aortic arch syndrome refers to a group of signs and symptoms associated with structural problems in the arteries that branch off the aortic arch. The aortic arch is the top part of the main artery carrying blood away from the heart.

Causes

Aortic arch syndrome problems can be due to trauma, blood clots, or malformations that develop before birth. These defects result in abnormal blood flow to the head, neck, or arms.

In children, there are many types of aortic arch syndromes, including:

  • Congenital absence of a branch of the aorta
  • Isolation of the subclavian arteries
  • Vascular rings

An inflammatory disease called Takayasu syndrome may result in narrowing (stenosis) of the vessels of the aortic arch. This typically occurs in women and girls. This disease is seen more often in people of Asian descent.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary according to the affected artery, but may include:

  • Blood pressure changes
  • Breathing problems
  • Dizziness, blurred vision, weakness, and other brain and nervous system (neurological) changes
  • Numbness of an arm
  • Reduced pulse
  • Transient ischemic attacks

Treatment

Surgery is most often needed to treat the underlying cause of aortic arch syndrome.

References

Braverman AC. Diseases of the aorta. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 57.

Lederle FA. Diseases of the aorta. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 78.

    • Heartbeat

      Heartbeat

      Animation

    •  

      Heartbeat - Animation

      This animation follows the passage of blood through the heart's chambers and valves.

    • Heart, section through the middle

      Heart, section through the middle - illustration

      The interior of the heart is composed of valves, chambers, and associated vessels.

      Heart, section through the middle

      illustration

    • Vascular ring

      Vascular ring - illustration

      Vascular ring is a term used to describe a number of abnormal formations of the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body, or of the pulmonary artery. The abnormal vessel(s) forms a ring, which encircles and may press down on the windpipe (trachea) or the esophagus. The additional pressure on the windpipe (trachea) and esophagus can lead to breathing and swallowing problems.

      Vascular ring

      illustration

    • Heartbeat

      Animation

    •  

      Heartbeat - Animation

      This animation follows the passage of blood through the heart's chambers and valves.

    • Heart, section through the middle

      Heart, section through the middle - illustration

      The interior of the heart is composed of valves, chambers, and associated vessels.

      Heart, section through the middle

      illustration

    • Vascular ring

      Vascular ring - illustration

      Vascular ring is a term used to describe a number of abnormal formations of the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body, or of the pulmonary artery. The abnormal vessel(s) forms a ring, which encircles and may press down on the windpipe (trachea) or the esophagus. The additional pressure on the windpipe (trachea) and esophagus can lead to breathing and swallowing problems.

      Vascular ring

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

    Tests for Aortic arch syndrome

     

    Review Date: 5/5/2016

    Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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