What Is Aortic Dissection?
Arteries have three layers. Aortic dissection is a potentially life-threatening condition in which a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta, the major artery carrying blood out of the heart.
Aortic dissection causes
Causes of a dissecting aortic aneurysm include:
- High blood pressure
- Degenerative diseases of the aorta.
- Marfan syndrome
- Bicuspid aortic valve
Complications of aortic dissection
With an aortic dissection, blood surges through the tear into and along the wall of the aorta, causing the inner and middle layers to separate (dissect).
If the blood-filled channel ruptures through the aortic wall, aortic dissection is usually fatal.
Aortic dissection risk factors
Aortic dissection occurs in approximately two out of every 10,000 people. It can affect anyone, but is most often found in men aged 40 to 70.
Most commonly associated with high blood pressure, an aortic dissection also can result from atherosclerosis.
Other risk factors include:
- A major chest injury (such as hitting the steering wheel of a car during an accident)
- A hereditary connective tissue disorder
- Untreated syphilis
Aortic dissection is a tear in the inner layer of the aorta. Type A aortic dissection is the most common type of dissection and occurs closer to the heart. It can be life threatening and requires immediate surgical itervention to repair or replace the segment of the aorta where the tear began.
Why choose UPMC for aortic dissection care?
The UPMC Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease is a specialty program led by cardiothoracic surgeons at UPMC. The center offers a full range of treatments for disorders and diseases affecting the aorta, including aortic dissection.
Learn More About Aortic Dissection
From our Health Library at UPMC.com