Acute Aortic Dissection Information

By: Juliet Cohen

Aortic dissection is a potentially life-threatening condition. Aortic dissection, also called dissecting aneurysm Aortic dissection is a tear in the wall of the aorta that causes blood to flow between the layers of the wall of the aorta and force the layers apart. The dissecting aorta usually does not burst, but has an abnormal second channel within it. An aortic dissection may also involve abnormal widening or ballooning of the aorta (aneurysm). The symptoms of aortic dissection mostly chest pain. This pain is often described as very severe and tearing; it's associated with cold sweat. The pain may be localized to the front or back of the chest. Typically the pain moves as the dissection gets worse. Other symptoms and signs depend on the arterial branches involved and compression of nearby organs.

The extent of the pain is proportional to the length of the dissection. Neurologic complications of aortic dissection are due to involvement of one or more arteries supplying portions of the central nervous system. Aortic dissection occurs in approximately 2 out of every 10,000 people. It is most often seen in men aged 40 to 70. Aortic dissection is more common in blacks than in whites and less common in Asians than in whites. Men have aortic dissection more often than women do. Distal dissection occurs most often between ages 60 and 70. High blood pressure is the most common factor predisposing the aorta to dissection. It's implicated in 62-78 percent of cases. Cocaine use has also been implicated as a risk factor for aortic dissection, most likely because the drug temporarily raises blood pressure.

Turner syndrome also increases the risk of aortic dissection, by aortic root dilatation. Marfan syndrome condition in which connective tissue, which supports various structures in the body, is weak. People with this disorder often have aneurysms of the aorta and other blood vessels. The goal of treatment is prevention of complications.Calcium channel blockers can be used in the treatment of aortic dissection. Anti-hypertensives may be prescribed. These drugs may be given through a vein (intravenously). Strong pain relievers are usually needed. Heart medications such as beta-blockers may reduce some of the symptoms. Adequate treatment and control of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure may reduce the risk. Take safety precautions to prevent injuries. Many cases are not preventable.

Acute Aortic Dissection Treatment and Prevention Tips

1. Surgery to repair or replace the damaged section of aorta.

2. Calcium channel blockers can be used in the treatment of aortic dissection.

3. Aggressive management of heart rate and blood pressure should be initiated.

4. Beta-blockers should be given initially to reduce the rate of change of blood pressure.

5. Keep your cholesterol levels within a range.

6. Wear a seat belt because it reduces the risk of injury to your chest area.

7. Eat low-salt diet and exercise regularly.

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