Aortic Dissection: Rare and Potentially Deadly 

Aortic dissection is a tear in the inner layer of the aorta, the main blood vessel branching off from the heart. 

An acute aortic dissection is a medical emergency and presents with excruciating chest or upper back pain that radiates to the neck or back. Other symptoms include sudden loss of consciousness and shortness of breath.

If this affects the ascending aorta — the part closest to the heart — it can potentially lead to bleeding inside the covering of the heart (a condition known as hemopericardium) and may even lead to cardiac tamponade with sudden death.

If this affects the descending aorta — the part after the three main branches — it can still lead to conditions that can affect circulation to important organs like the gut, kidneys, and even the legs.

The most common risk factor is untreated high blood pressure. Others include genetic disorders like Marfan syndrome, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, and Loeys-Dietz syndrome. It is also associated with preeclampsia in pregnancy, cocaine abuse, and severe blunt force injury to the chest such as in a car accident.

A diagram of a human body

Description automatically generated

Classification of Aortic Dissection

Accessibility Toolbar