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.
Patients with untreated aortic dissection involving proximal and distal aorta revealed about a rate of 50% of patients. Because of unfavorable prognosis of untreated aortic dissection aggressive medical therapy and surgery are recruited to improve survival rates. In patients with distal dissection, the survival rate was 75%. Pharmacologic interventions to reduce aortic wall tension in aortic dissection have shown lowered early death rates.