A progressive tear in the aorta. The inner lining (intima) of the aorta tears and blood surges through the tear, creating a new false channel and separating (dissecting) the middle layer (media) from the outer layer of the aorta.
Aortic dissection usually occurs in the thoracic aorta, less often the abdominal aorta. About three-fourths of aortic dissections occur in men and in people 40 to 70 years of age.
Risk factors that predispose to aortic dissection include high blood pressure, genetic disorders of connective tissue such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, aortic insufficiency (a leaky aortic valve), coarctation (congenital narrowing) of the aorta, and arteriosclerosis.
The key symptom of aortic dissection is sudden severe tearing pain, usually across the chest and in the back between the shoulder blades. An aortic dissection that does not stop tearing is fatal.
Treatment is often a matter of urgency. It may involve medication to lower blood pressure, surgical repair to replace the damaged portion of the blood vessel with a synthetic graft, or the placement of a stent or graft using a catheter.
Also called a dissecting aneurysm of the aorta.
Picture of Aortic Dissection
- Aortic insufficiency
Aortic insufficiency: Backflow of blood from the aorta into the left ventricle across a weakened aortic valve. Also known as aortic regurgitation.
- Aortic regurgitation
Aortic regurgitation: The return of blood from the aorta into the left ventricle of the heart due to aortic valve insufficiency, incomplete closure of the aortic valve.
- Aortic stenosis
Narrowing (stenosis) of the aortic valve, the valve between the left ventricle of the heart and the aorta. This narrowing impedes the delivery of blood to the body through the aorta and makes the heart work harder. The need for surgery depends on the degree of stenosis. A procedure called balloon valvuloplasty has been used […]
- Aortic valve
Aortic valve: One of the four valves in the heart, this valve is situated at exit of the left ventricle of the heart where the aorta (the largest of all arteries) begins. The aortic valve lets blood from the left ventricle be pumped up (ejected) into the aorta but prevents blood once it is in […]
- Aortic valve, bicuspid
Aortic valve, bicuspid: Whereas the normal aortic valve in the heart has three flaps (cusps) that open and close, a bicuspid valve has only two. There may be no symptoms in childhood, but in time the valve may become stenotic (narrowed), making it harder for blood to pass through it, or the valve may start […]