Aortic dissection is a serious condition where the inner layer of the aorta, a large blood vessel diverging from the heart, is torn. Blood swells through tears and the inner and middle layers of the aorta separate (dissect). Aortic dissection is often fatal when blood-filled channels rupture through the outer aortic wall.
Aortic dissection is relatively rare. This symptom occurs most frequently in men in their 60s and 70s. Symptoms of aortic dissection may mimic the symptoms of other diseases, often leading to a delay in diagnosis. However, when aortic dissection is detected early and treated promptly, chances of survival are greatly improved.
Symptoms of aortic dissection may be similar to other cardiac problems such as heart attacks. Typical signs and symptoms include the following:
Sudden severe chest or back pain is often described as a tearing, splitting or shearing sensation and radiating to the neck or under the back
Loss of consciousness
shortness of breath
Sudden difficult words, loss of vision, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, stroke
The pulse of one arm is weaker than the other arm
When going to see a doctor
If you have any signs or symptoms such as severe chest pain, syncope, sudden shortness of breath or stroke symptoms, please call 911 or emergency medical assistance. These signs and symptoms are not always serious problems at all times, but it is best to check quickly. Early detection and treatment may help to save your life.
Aortic dissection occurs in weak areas of the aortic wall. Chronic hypertension stresses aortic tissues and is susceptible to tears. It may also be born in a condition associated with a weakly expanded aorta, such as Marfan syndrome, bicuspid aortic valve, or other rare condition associated with weakening of the vessel wall. Rarely, aortic dissection is caused by traumatic injury to the thoracic region, such as a car accident.
Aortic dissection is divided into two groups depending on which part of the aorta is affected:
Type A. This more general and dangerous type has tears in the part of the aorta exiting the heart and tears in the upper aorta (ascending aorta) that stretches in the abdomen.
Type B. This is accompanied by a laceration of the descending aorta (descending aorta) only in the aorta and it may extend to the abdomen.
Risk factors for aortic dissection include,
- Uncontrolled hypertension (hypertension)
- Arterial sclerosis (atherosclerosis)
- The debilitated aorta (existing aortic aneurysm)
- Aortic valve defect (bicuspid aortic valve)
- Aortic stenosis at birth (aortic diameter reduction)
Certain genetic diseases increase the risk of aortic dissection.
Hypertension, cardiac problems and many other health conditions can be attributed to this disorder.
This is a weak state of the connective tissue that supports the various structures of the body. People with this disease often have a family history of aneurysms of the aorta and other vessels.
Other connective tissue disorder.
This includes Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a group of connective tissue disorders with easy skin of contusion or tear, loose joints and fragile blood vessels, Loeys-Dietz syndrome, especially torsion arteries of the neck.
Inflammatory or infectious condition.
These include giant cell arteritis, arterial inflammation, and syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease.
Other potential risk factors include:
The incidence of sex male aortic dissection is about two times.
Use of cocaine. Because this drug temporarily increases blood pressure, it may be a risk factor for aortic dissection.
Rarely, aortic dissection is rare in healthy women during pregnancy.
High strength weight lifting.
This and other intense resistance training may increase the risk of aortic dissection by raising blood pressure during activity.
- Organ disorders such as kidney failure or life-threatening intestinal damage
- Damage to the aortic valve (aortic valve regurgitation) or rupture to the inner layer around the heart (cardiac tamponade)