An aortic dissection is a serious condition in which the inner layer of the aorta, the large blood vessel branching off the heart, tears. Blood surges through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate (dissect). If the blood-filled channel ruptures through the outside aortic wall, aortic dissection is often fatal.
Aortic dissection symptoms may be similar to those of other heart problems, such as a heart attack. Typical signs and symptoms include: Sudden severe chest or upper back pain, often described as a tearing, ripping or shearing sensation, that radiates to the neck or down the back. An aortic dissection is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment. Therapy may include surgery or medications, depending on the area of the aorta involved.
The incidence of Aortic Dissection (AD) appears to have been increasing over time. AD is most common in men and older individuals. The highest incidence was shown for black males. Aortic dilatation is a well-established risk factor for AD but is not a prerequisite; most ascending aortic dissections occur when aortic diameter is <5.5 cm. The mortality from aortic dissection ranged between 0.5 and 2.7% per 100.000 people.