Aortic Dissection: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Prevention

Dissecting aortic aneurysm
Dissecting aortic aneurysm

Aorta is a large artery that carries blood from the heart to the body. A dissection of the aorta means that blood is now leaking outside of the interior of the blood vessel or arterial lumen. The inner layer of the aorta tears, and blood surges out causing the separation of the internal and middle layers. It is very uncommon but men aged 60-70 are more prone to it. If not treated at the right time it can get fatal. The chance of survival exceedingly improves if aortic dissection is detected early and treated promptly.

Let’s look at some of the symptoms of aortic dissection. The symptoms can be challenging to differentiate from that of other heart problems like a heart attack. However, chest pain and upper back pain are the most common symptoms. Some of the other symptoms are:

  • Partial Paralysis
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weak pulse in one arm or thigh than the other one.
  • Leg pain
  • Sweating

Knowing the symptoms of aortic dissection will help you in consulting a doctor immediately. Now let us see the causes of aortic dissection.

An aortic dissection occurs when the aortic wall is weakened. High blood pressure also causes strain /stress on the aortic tissue, making it more prone to tearing. An inherited abnormal condition of your body tissues can also lead to a weakened aorta such as Marfan syndrome, bicuspid aortic valve, or other rarer conditions. Aortic dissection can occur either in the ascending or the descending part of your aorta. Aortic dissections are grouped into two types, depending on the part of the aorta that is affected.

  • Type A – This is the most common type of dissection in which there is a tear in the ascending section of the aorta where it exits the heart.
  • Type B – This involves dissection in the descending aorta which passes from chest to abdomen.

After identifying the type of aortic dissection of the patient, the next step is treatment. Depending upon the aorta, which is affected, the doctor can treat this in two ways of either surgery or medication. In type A of dissection, urgent surgical treatment is needed. The dissected aorta is removed and rebuild with an artificial tube called a graft. For complicated repairs, a stent might also be added. In type B type of dissection, which is less life-threatening, mostly medication is the solution. Beta-blockers and sodium nitroprusside are given to lower blood pressure. However, a long Dissecting aortic aneurysm may cause an enlargement (aneurysm) of the aorta, and then depending on the situation, open surgery can be performed.

The best way to prevent this is to schedule a regular annual appointment with a doctor for heart check-ups. Some of the other tips that can help you anticipate aortic dissection are as follows:

  • Control blood pressure. Get a blood pressure measuring device to help you monitor your blood pressure at home.
  • Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, then stop doing it.
  • Maintain an ideal weight. Adopt a healthy diet, follow a low-salt diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make sure to exercise regularly.
  • Wear a seat belt whenever driving.

An aortic dissection if untreated can lead to death because of severe internal bleeding, kidney failure, stroke, and valve damage. So, make sure to follow the preventive measures and consult a doctor whenever you see any symptoms mentioned above.

There are many qualified doctors and hospitals to treat aortic dissection. One of the leading is Vascular Centre in Bangalore. It is an advanced vascular care center with the best surgeons having cutting edge technology to provide comprehensive and unbiased care. With more than 14 years of experience, it has successfully treated more than 6000 patients.

The symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention mentioned above will surely help you to firstly avoid the chances of aortic dissection, and if negative then will surely help you get prompt treatment.

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