Brazilian Natural Medicine

Aortic dissection: what it is, symptoms and treatment

Aortic dissection, also known as aortic dissection, is a relatively rare medical emergency where the innermost layer of the aorta artery, called the intima, suffers a small tear, through which blood can seep, reaching the innermost layers. vessels and causing symptoms such as intense and sudden pain in the chest, feeling short of breath and even fainting.

Although rare, this condition is more common in men over the age of 60, especially when there is a medical history of unregulated high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, drug use, or some other heart condition.

When there is a suspicion of a dissection of the orta, it is very important to go to the hospital quickly, since, when it is identified in the first 24 hours, there is a higher success rate of the treatment, which is usually done with drugs directly into the vein to control blood pressure. and surgery.

main symptoms

Symptoms of aortic dissection can vary greatly from one person to another, however, they can include:

  • Sudden, severe pain in the chest, back, or abdomen;
  • Feeling short of breath;
  • Weakness in the legs or arms;
  • fainting
  • Difficulty speaking, seeing or walking;
  • Weak pulse, which may only happen on one side of the body.

Since these symptoms are similar to many other heart problems, diagnosis may take longer in people who already have a previous heart condition, requiring several tests. Check out 12 symptoms of heart problems.

Whenever symptoms of heart problems arise, it is very important to go to the hospital quickly, to identify the cause and start treatment as soon as possible.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of an aortic dissection is usually made by a cardiologist after evaluating the symptoms, the person’s medical history, and doing tests such as a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, CT scan, and MRI.

What causes aortic dissection

Aortic dissection usually happens in an aorta that is weakened and is therefore more common in people who have a history of high blood pressure or atherosclerosis. However, it can also happen due to other conditions that affect the wall of the aorta, such as Marfan syndrome or changes in the bicuspid valve of the heart.

More rarely, dissection can also happen due to trauma, that is, due to accidents or strong blows to the abdomen.

How is the treatment done?

Treatment for aortic dissection should be done soon after the diagnosis is confirmed, starting with the use of drugs to lower blood pressure, such as beta-blockers. In addition, as pain can lead to increased pressure and worsening of the condition, strong painkillers such as morphine can also be used.

In some cases, surgery may still be necessary to repair the wall of the aorta. The need for surgery is assessed by a cardiothoracic surgeon, but it usually depends on where the dissection took place. Thus, if the dissection is affecting the ascending portion of the aorta, immediate surgery is usually indicated, while if the dissection appears in the descending portion, the surgeon can first assess the progression of the condition and symptoms, and surgery may not even be necessary.

When it is necessary, it is usually a very complicated and time-consuming surgery, as the surgeon has to replace the affected area of ​​the aorta with a synthetic material.

Possible complications

There are several complications associated with aortic dissection, the two main ones including the rupture of arteries, as well as the development of dissection to other important arteries, such as those that carry blood to the heart. Thus, in addition to treating an aortic dissection, physicians usually assess the emergence of complications that need to be treated in order to reduce the risk of death.

Even after treatment, there is a high risk of complications arising during the first 2 years and, therefore, the person should have regular consultations with the cardiologist, as well as tests, such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance, to identify possible complications early.

To avoid complications, people who have had an aortic dissection should follow the doctor’s instructions, as well as avoid habits that can greatly increase blood pressure. Thus, it is recommended that you avoid doing very intense physical activity and have a balanced diet that is low in salt.

Always consult a doctor.

Verified by RJ985 – Brazilian natural medicine

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