Aortic Dissection - Topic Overview
What are the symptoms of aortic dissection? continued...
symptoms may include:
- Numbness and the inability to move the
- Lack of pulse.
If you experience these symptoms, you should call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
Do not drive yourself as time is
important and stress and movement should be reduced to a minimum. Do not try to
take pain medicine or heart medicine. Taking aspirin with aortic
dissections can be fatal.
If you witness a person
become unconscious, call 911 or other emergency services and start cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR). The emergency operator can coach you on how to perform
How is aortic dissection diagnosed?
Your doctor will
ask you questions about your symptoms, medical history, lifestyle, and family
medical history and do a physical exam. He or she may ask if you
have been hit hard in the chest or been in an automobile accident. Several
specialists may see you.
Your doctor will listen to your heart sounds
with a stethoscope, take your pulse and evaluate your circulation, and evaluate
your neurological status (nerve and brain function). As the symptoms of aortic
dissection mimic many other conditions, you may need several tests.
If you have an aortic
dissection, you may need:
- Blood tests. These tests can give your doctor
clues about what is causing your symptoms.
- An angiogram. This test can help your doctor know what the size of your
dissection is and if you have blood clots or other blood vessel
- Computed tomography scanning (CT) and
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help your doctor
know if your dissection is growing.
- A transthoracic
echocardiography and transesophageal echocardiography
(TEE) to let your doctor look at blood vessels inside your
- An intravascular
ultrasound to get a better look at your blood
How is aortic dissection treated?
The treatment of
aortic dissection depends in part on where the dissection is located:
- Dissections involving the aorta where it goes
up from the heart (with or without the arch) are known as type A dissections
and are typically treated with surgery.
- Dissections involving the
rest of the aorta are known as type B dissections. If there are no
complications, type B dissections are typically treated with