All About Aortic Dissection And Aortic Dissection Symptoms

Aortic dissection is a serious condition. Aortic dissection is characterized by bleeding in the walls and into the aorta. This condition is life threatening as it is one of the most important arteries of the body which carries blood out from the heart. This condition generally affects men more than women. Aortic dissection is seen to occur mostly in men in the age groups of 40-80 years of age.

The aorta consists of the ascending and the descending branches of the aorta. The ascending branch is the one which travels up in the direction of the head and the descending branch in the one which travels downwards towards the abdomen crossing the chest.

This condition mainly arises when there is a defect in the form of a tear in the inner walls of the aorta. Aortic dissection can affect any portion of the artery but it is seen to affect the chest portion of the artery in a much larger frequency than the abdominal portion.

Two types of aortic dissection:

-when the aortic dissection affects the ascending branch, it is of the type A variety.

-when the aortic dissection affects the descending branch, it is of the type B variety.

In aortic dissection a tear occurs through which the blood starts flowing. When this defect takes place some of the blood starts flowing out and some of it remains stagnant. The stagnant blood starts applying pressure on other parts of the aorta.

When aortic dissection persists for a longer duration of time, it can lead to an aneurysm or abnormal ballooning of the aorta.


Causes and risk factors of aortic dissection:



-any kind of trauma to the chest area

-with increasing age, the risk of developing this condition is higher


-any defect in the heart

-in bicuspid heart valves

-any kind of inflammatory conditions of the heart valves



-severe pain in the chest which may start suddenly

-the pain may be sharp and of a stabbing variety. The pain associated with aortic dissection is of radiating type. The pain is seen to radiate to the back and the shoulder area. When the condition gets worse the pain is seen to radiate to the extremities such as the arms and the legs.

-decreased sensation and mobility is seen to be associated with aortic dissection.




-extreme fatigue

-dry mouth

-pale skin accompanied with extreme sweating


-short breath with a weak pulse



The diagnosis of aortic dissection starts with taking a brief family history. The doctor examines the chest area with a stethoscope. Murmur sounds are heard in the aortic region. Different levels of blood pressure are noticed in the right and the left arms. The signs seen in aortic dissection are similar to those seen when a person suffers from a heart attack.

A chest MRI, ECG and CT scan must be advised immediately. An aortic angiography should be performed.



The patient must be hospitalized immediately before the condition gets worse. The type A aortic dissection would need surgery to fix the defect at the earliest. Type B can be treated with medications first. Anti hypertensives should be prescribed. Pain killers and beta blockers will help relieve symptoms. Valve replacement might be necessary in some conditions where aortic valve damage has occurred.

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