Aortic Dissection: Understanding Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

Although uncommon, Aortic Dissection is a life-threatening condition. If no timely treatment is provided, the mortality rate is 1-2 % per hour within the first 48 hours. The aorta is the body’s largest blood vessel, delivering oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood from the heart to other body parts. 

The aorta is three layers thick. Any rupture or tear in the inner layer causes aortic dissection. It can lead to many complications, such as organ damage, stroke, and even death.

Read on to learn more about aortic dissection, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Risk Factors

There are many factors that make people prone to aortic dissection. Some of the common ones are: 

  • Hypertension 
  • Atherosclerosis 
  • Genetic disorders with connective tissue like Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Turner’s Syndrome 
  • Bicuspid aortic valve (abnormal heart valve) 
  • A history of heart surgery or trauma
  • Substance abuse, particularly cocaine
  • Compared to women, men aged 60 and above are more likely to have aortic dissection. 
  • Strenuous workouts or heavy weightlifting increase blood pressure, which can cause aortic dissection. 


One of the biggest challenges with aortic dissection is that its symptoms can be similar to other health issues, which can lead to misdiagnosis or delayed treatment. The symptoms of aortic dissection generally start abruptly and can change according to the location and severity of the aortic tear.  

Common signs of this heart condition include: 

  • Sudden and severe chest or back pain that feels like ripping or tearing. 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weakness or paralysis in one side of the body
  • Difficulty speaking 
  • Sudden loss of vision 
  • Very quick and weak pulse 
  • Severe sweating 


As discussed above, the symptoms are similar to other cardiac problems like stroke and heart attack; hence, timely detection of aortic dissection is a tough task. 

A complete physical examination and patient history are analyzed first by the physician. Some of the most prominent and commonly performed tests to visualize the aorta and identify an aortic dissection are: 

  • Computed Tomography (CT) scans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE) 
  • Doppler Ultrasonography 
  • Aortic Angiography


Some of the serious complications associated with aortic dissection are: 

  • Organ damage due to lack of proper blood flow to various organs like the brain, kidney, etc, can lead to strokes or ischemia.
  • Untreated aortic dissection can cause an aortic aneurysm (rupture of the aorta), which is life-threatening. 
  • Internal bleeding due to aortic dissection can result in death. 


The management of aortic dissection depends on the location, extent, and severity of the tear and the patient’s overall health. Medical intervention is required as soon as possible to reduce the stress of the aortic damage on the heart. For that, medications and surgical methods are used. 

Ascending Aortic Dissection is a true cardiac surgical emergency. With a mortality rate of 1% per hour, 50% of patients with this diagnosis are dead in 48 hours!

Our cardiac surgeon, Dr.Nikhil

Aortic dissection is a serious cardiac issue that needs immediate medical attention to improve the chances of survival. Our medical team at Heart Care 360 in Chennai is available 24/7 for you and your loved ones seeking emergency medical care. Contact our hospital to learn more. 

About Heart360 Care

A healthy heart is the key to a fulfilling life with your loved ones. At Heart360 we bring 17 years of expertise from the United States to provide the best of care to you and your family.

Have Queries? Chat With Us Now!

    Have Queries? Chat With Us Now!
    © 2024 Heart360 Care | All Rights Reserved