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Question:

What is a sclerotic, atheromatous aorta?

My father had an x-ray of his chest, PA view. Aorta is sclerotic. Impression: atheromatous aorta. Could you please explain this to me?

submitted by Lien from Islip Terrace, New York on 8/31/2012

Answer:

by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Benjamin Cheong, MD    Benjamin Y. Cheong, MD, FACC, FRCP

Atherosclerosis, in general terms, means "hardening" of the arteries (blood supply to the human body).  It occurs with aging and is due to the layering /deposition of substances like cholesterol and fat onto the surface of the arteries. In a later stage, there could also be calcium formed on the artery surface. In part, the process is due to genetics, and in part, this could also be due to diet (especially in Western society). 

This could be seen on the chest x-ray, as the aortic contour (the big vessel supplying blood out of the heart) could appear "lumpy bumpy" to the interpreting radiologist. This is usually of no great concern, nevertheless, this may serve a good opportunity for a visit to the primary care physician for a check-up, with attention to blood pressure level; cholesterol level; and dietary and exercise review to see if there is any room for modification and improvement. Best wishes.        

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Updated September 2012
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