Aortic dissection is a tear in the inner layer of the aorta, the large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A tear in this passageway can cause the inner layer to separate, or dissect, as blood flows through. It creates another channel that is highly susceptible to rupture. An aortic rupture can be fatal in many cases, but early detection and quick treatment can save your life.
Causes of an Aortic Dissection
An aortic dissection occurs in a weakened area of the aorta and may be a result of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
This condition is relatively uncommon, but occurs most frequently in men between the ages of 50 and 70.
Symptoms of an Aortic Dissection
The symptoms of an aortic dissection are similar to those of other heart problems and may include:
- Sudden chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Treatment of an Aortic Dissection
Once recognized, an aortic dissection requires immediate treatment in order to minimize damage and prevent rupture. Surgery is the preferred treatment for most cases of aortic dissection and is performed to remove the separated aorta and to stop blood from flowing through the aortic wall. A stent or graft may be used to reconstruct the aorta. Medications to manage blood pressure and chest pain are frequently used to treat an aortic dissection preventing fatal complications.