FRIDAY, Oct. 10, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A newly launched Web site offers information about nearly every aspect of thoracic aortic disorders, including aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection, the catastrophic bleeding that reportedly claimed the life of actor John Ritter.
The Web site of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles uses easy-to-understand language and graphics to explain diseases and injuries that can affect the aorta, the body's main artery. The site also describes medications and lifestyle modifications -- such as diet and exercise -- that can help people with thoracic aortic disorders. There's also information to help patients find appropriate specialists.
The aorta, about an inch in diameter, is the major artery carrying blood from the heart to blood vessels throughout the body. From the heart, the thoracic aorta extends upward (ascending aorta) before arching (aortic arch) and extending downward through the chest (descending aorta).
Arteries that branch out from the thoracic aorta supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, head, neck, arms and chest.
A localized bulge or weakness in the aorta -- called an aneurysm -- can become a deadly threat if it ruptures. Victims often have few, if any, warning signs.
Aneurysms can be caused by arterial plaque and prolonged high blood pressure, physical injuries or genetic factors.
Here's where you can find the thoracic aortic disorders Web site.