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What is acute aortic dissection?

AORTIC dissection is a rare but serious heart condition that tends to affect people in their 50s and 60s.

Here we outline all the key details that you need to know.

What is acute aortic dissection?

Acute aortic dissection is a rare, but serious heart condition that occurs in a weakened area of the wall of the aorta.

The aorta is the biggest blood vessel in the body that comes directly from the heart.

If it tears then blood begins to surge through, causing both the inner and layers of the aorta to separate and dissect.

The dissections can either affect the upper aorta or the lower aorta.

Symptoms of the condition are considered to be similar to a heart attack or a stroke, such as shortness of breath.  

What causes acute aortic dissection?

Certain conditions can make a tear in the wall more likely.

People who suffer from high blood pressure are said to be one group that is most at risk as their condition may weaken the wall of the aorta over time, thus making it more likely to tear.

There is also an increased risk for those with history of cocaine, those who consistently participate in weightlifting and those with a history of heart related diseases.

Furthermore, some people are also born with certain conditions that causes a weakened wall of the aorta.

These conditions are rare and include Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.  

What is the survival rate of an aortic dissection?

The survival rate of aortic dissection is currently unknown.

However, the disease is considered very severe and is often fatal.

This is because the aortic dissection can rupture through to the outside aortic wall (called an aortic rupture).

Age also plays a factor in a person’s survival chances given that the condition often affects those in their 50s and 60s.

Only about 30 people per million, will have one in their year.

How do you fix an aortic dissection?

An aortic dissection is an emergency and requires immediate treatment.

Treatment often involves surgery to repair the damaged aorta.

Medicines such as beta blockers may be used before surgery to reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.

After the treatment, some patients may require medicine to lower their blood pressure which they will probably need to take for the rest of their lives.

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