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Aortic Dissection

Aortic Dissection - What it is

Aortic dissection occurs when an injury to the innermost layer of the aorta allows blood to flow between the layers of aortic wall, forcing the layers apart. With aortic dissection, there is reduced or absent blood supply to the various vital organs at times.

(above) Aortic dissection occurs when a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta

What is an aorta?

The aorta is the biggest artery in our body. It originates from the heart, makes a U-turn in the upper chest and ends around the umbilical area, with branches of artery supplying the whole body with oxygenated blood. Therefore, conditions that affect the aorta may affect the blood supply to certain organs, depending on which part of the aorta is involved. 

The wall of the aorta comprises an inner, middle and outer layer. It is typically thick and elastic enough to withstand the pressure of oxygenated blood flowing from the heart to the different parts of the body.

Disease in the aorta can cause narrowing or, more commonly, abnormal dilatation of the artery. However, the most dreaded disease which affects the aorta is aortic dissection, a rare but is potentially life threatening condition. 

Aortic dissection is caused by disruption of the aorta wall, which allows blood to flow between the layers of the blood vessel wall. The origins of major branches from the aorta at the site of the dissection may be affected, thus compromising blood flow to the respective major organs. Death, heart attack or stroke may ensue if arteries to the heart or brain are affected.

Aortic dissection is usually associated with high blood pressure or conditions that weaken the wall of the blood vessel, such as Marfan’s syndrome. Rarely, it can also happen during pregnancy in normal women.

Aortic Dissection - How to prevent?

Aortic Dissection - Preparing for surgery

Aortic Dissection - Post-surgery care

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