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All about dissecting aortic aneurysm

Dissecting aortic aneurysm is a life-threatening medical condition that leads to excessive ballooning of major heart aortas as result of aortic dissection. This condition requires urgent and life-saving emergency surgery as the patient can easily die. It is thought that the disease condition is caused by excessive pressure acting on either the ascending or descending aorta, causing them to dilate and burst.

What causes dissecting aortic aneurysm?

Inheritance Although it is not clear, scientific studies suggest that the condition is caused by a number of factors. Among them is the possibility of inheritance from the family lineage. This means that if fore-parents or other family members have suffered from dissecting aortic aneurysm, the siblings have higher chances of suffering from the same. Atherosclerosis Other pathological conditions like atherosclerosis - hardening of the blood vessels by due to deposition of bad cholesterol - increases the chances of suffering from dissecting aortic aneurysm. The veins lose elasticity and are therefore prone to dissection, and consequently, aneurysm. Smoking accelerates atherosclerosis. Therefore, it is a secondary causative agent of aortic dissecting.

Types of dissecting aortic aneurysm

This diseases condition is classified as either type I or II, depending on where dissection begins and ends. Type A begins in the arch of the ascending aorta. This results to aneurysm either along the length of the aorta from the point dissection or at the arched region only. Type B is said to originate from the descending aorta and does not affect the arch of the aorta. Aneurysm occurs along the straight length of the aorta.

Pathological manifestation of dissecting aortic aneurysm

When one develops the condition, the three layers of the heart separate in manner like that of plywood which has warped. This happens at the weakest point of the aorta and the blood leaves the main passage and enters between the vessels’ layers. The blood rests in between the spaces causing it to balloon. Symptoms of dissecting aortic aneurysm include sharp, stabbing pain at the location of dissection. In addition, the pain feels like it is changing position within the thoracic and chest regions. Other symptoms are general weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and loss of consciousness, among others.


Usually, a patient who suspects to have a dissecting aortic aneurysm must visit a doctor to have a CT scan done. This is the most common method of diagnosis. Other techniques used to detect aneurysm are chest MRI, chest X-ray, ultrasonography and aortic angiography.

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