The Aorta is the largest blood vessel when compared to other blood vessels in the body. It is the part through which the blood from your heart is carried to the rest of your body. When the aorta tears, the blood will flow towards unwanted areas. This means there will be some blood that continues traveling to places it shouldn’t, and there is some blood that remains where it is. A tear leads to the separation of two layers of the Aorta, namely the middle and inner aorta layers; this is called Aortic Dissection. There are chances that the outermost layer of the Aorta can burst due to the tearing of the inner layer, which is generally caused due to high blood flow.
When this occurs, the aorta must be repaired immediately because it is a fatal condition. Aortic Dissection is considered a medical emergency. It’s more common to have Aortic Dissection in the aorta region within the chest area, but it can occur in the abdominal aorta. When an Aortic Dissection occurs in the abdominal area, it is called abdominal Aortic Dissection.
Aortic Dissection symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other diseases, which is why it can be difficult to detect it. But there are some common symptoms that can point to Aortic Dissection and they are as follows.
This is the common type of Aortic Dissection and is considered more life-threatening than Type B Aortic Dissection. In Type A Aortic Dissection, the tear takes place in the upper aorta which is called the ascending aorta. The ascending aorta has coronary arteries which supply the heart with blood. The tear can occur in the location where the aorta leaves the heart but it can go down to the abdominal area.
In this type of Aortic Dissection, the tear occurs in the lower part of your aorta also called descending aorta. The branches of the descending aorta are responsible for supplying blood to some of the chest structures and ribs. The tear can eventually extend to the abdomen area. The branches of the abdominal aorta are responsible for supplying blood to most of the major organs in the body.
Some factors can make you more prone to having an Aortic Dissection. The following are common Aortic Dissection risk factors.
There are some genetic diseases that can put you at risk of Aortic Dissection. These are as follows:
Aortic Dissection can lead to a decrease in blood flow, or can stop blood flow, which can damage the legs, brain, kidneys, heart, or intestines.
The following are some ways in which you can prevent Aortic Dissection.
As stated earlier, it can be tricky to detect Aortic Dissection just by symptoms alone because these symptoms can resemble other types of health conditions too. Your doctor will take a look at your medical history, your family history, and listen to your heart. If there is any abnormal sound or if a heart murmur is heard over your aorta then there is a chance that it is due to Aortic Dissection. Your doctor will listen to your abdomen and your lungs too with the help of a stethoscope to diagnose Aortic Dissection. Some of the signs that can point to Aortic Dissection are the differences between the blood pressure in your left arm and your right arm.
Your doctor may detect a difference in blood pressure in your legs and arms, which can mean Aortic Dissection has occurred. Low blood pressure in certain areas can indicate Aortic Dissection. If you are exhibiting signs of shock even though your blood pressure is normal, it can indicate Aortic Dissection. If you are showing any symptoms that are similar to those of a heart attack, then it might be an Aortic Dissection. Another sign is if you experience chest pain that seems like a ripping and unbearable pain that develops suddenly out of nowhere. Some of the signs discussed can indicate other problems too.
Your doctor might suggest you take other tests to ensure Aortic Dissection is correctly diagnosed. For instance Aortic Dissection radiology can be recommended. Some of the procedures your doctor might recommend are as follows.
Your doctor might take other tests before taking some of the tests mentioned above. For example, before performing a chest MRI, your doctor might take a blood test. In many cases, your doctor will make sure that the signs are not indicating a heart attack with the help of a test called the troponin test. The results of some of the tests may require additional tests but this depends on the results of your tests. Your doctor will let you know about the tests and what you need to do to prepare in advance for some of the tests.
Aortic Dissection treatment is necessary as soon as it is diagnosed. The treatment of Aortic Dissection depends on where the dissection has occurred on the aorta and other factors. The treatment options are as follows.
In the ascending Aortic Dissection, your doctor might prescribe medications. Medications used for lowering your blood pressure are often prescribed as these help to reduce the heart rate as well. Examples of such medications include nitroprusside and beta-blockers. These medications help to prevent the Aortic Dissection from getting worse. These can be used before surgery is performed on people with ascending Aortic Dissection. This helps to maintain the right level of blood pressure before the surgery takes place.
In the case of surgery, your doctor will remove the aorta parts that have dissected. Another key point is your doctor will block the blood from entering the aortic wall which can cause further damage and create complications. The aorta is then created again with the help of a graft which is essentially a synthetic tube. If the aortic valve is leaking as a result then replacement surgery is performed at the same time. The graft is used to place the new valve so that aorta can be reconstructed to avoid further leakage.
The same types of medications used in Type B Aortic Dissection can be prescribed by your doctor. In Type B Aortic Dissection, surgery might not be required when you are prescribed those medications. If surgery is required then the method is similar to that of type B surgery. However, there are chances that your doctor might use stents in case you have acute Aortic Dissection that is categorized as type B. A stent is used to keep a blocked path open and is a tiny tube made of plastic or metal. A stent can restore blood flow, and stent-grafts may be used which are large stents that are often used in the case of large arteries.
Regardless of what type of Aortic Dissection you are getting the surgery, there are two ways in which the Aortic Dissection surgery can be performed. The first way is open surgery which is the standard surgery. In this surgery, an incision is made in your abdomen or your chest and the surgery is performed. In the second type of surgery, called endovascular aortic repair, there are no major incisions made and your doctor uses a catheter and x-rays to repair your aorta. A small bandage is sufficient to be placed in the wound area in this type of surgery because it is a minor surgery.
Aortic Dissection can be fatal but if surgery is performed before the rupture of the aorta then it can be managed. Once your treatment starts, you might be required to take blood pressure medications for the rest of your life. Your doctor will continue to monitor your situation with the help of an MRI or CT scan depending on your situation. This will help your doctor monitor your aorta to ensure it is functioning as it should and there are no further problems with it. It will take you at least one whole month to recover from the surgery. The time you need to spend in the hospital depends on the surgery type performed.
You need to speak to your doctor about whether you can drive home by yourself or not. In most cases, doctors advise against it because the recovery can take time. In the case of open-heart surgery, you may require at least a few months to heal completely. You might not regain your normal energy levels soon but, eventually, they will be back. You need to ensure you get good rest so that you can recover well. Your doctor might suggest you take a special diet so you are getting all the nutrients. Depending on any other surgery that you may have had in addition, your doctor will let you know about the recovery options accordingly.
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