What is Aortic Dissection?

Aortic Dissection

An aortic dissection is a severe heart and vascular condition where there is a tear in the inner layer of the aorta, a large blood vessel that branches off the heart. Although aortic dissections are rather uncommon, this is a condition that anyone can develop. It is important to learn how to prevent them and when it is necessary to see a physician. Aortic dissections most commonly occur in men between 60 and 70 years old. Sometimes aortic dissection symptoms, outlined below, can be mistaken for other cardiovascular disease.

Aortic Dissection Symptoms

Symptoms of aortic dissection include:

  • Sudden chest of upper back pain that radiates down the neck or back
  • Fainting
  • Stroke
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakness or paralysis

Aortic Dissection Risk Factors

Some of the risk factors associated with aortic dissection include:

  • An aortic valve defect
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Weakened and bulging arteries
  • Constriction of the aorta

Aortic Dissection Prevention

The best way to prevent an aortic dissection is to follow your physician’s advice and:

  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Do not smoke, or try to quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy cholesterol level
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

When Should I See My Physician?

If you have any of the symptoms listed above contact your physician or emergency medical assistance. You may not have an aortic dissection, but it would best to get it checked out as you may have other heart or vascular disorders.

Aortic Dissection at Emory Heart & Vascular

Emory Heart & Vascular Center cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and vascular surgeons work together to treat patients with aortic dissections. If detected early, a patient’s chance of survival is improved. We believe that if you can maintain a healthy heart if you pay attention to the keys to prevention, understand symptoms and work closely with your physician.

About Ravi Veeraswamy, MD

Dr. Veeraswamy specializes in surgery and vascular surgery, and has been practicing with Emory since 2006. Some of his areas of clinical interest include aortic aneurysm, carotid endarterectomy, peripheral arterial and vascular disease, and vascular surgery. Recently, Dr. Veeraswamy has published articles in the Washington University Manual of Surgery, Vascular and Endovascular Challenges, and the Annals of Vascular Surgery.

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