The aorta is the biggest artery in the body. It starts from the heart and supplies blood to the whole body through branches of arteries.
Disease in the aorta can lead to abnormal narrowing and dilation (swelling) of the arteries. These diseases include:
Aortic aneurysm, which is an abnormal dilation of the aorta. The dilation of the aorta’s wall may cause the aorta to burst, which can lead to massive internal bleeding and severe pain.
Aortic dissection, which is a tearing in the wall of the aorta. The dissection causes the layers of the wall of the aorta to come apart as blood is flowing between the layers. Rapid blood loss can occur if the aorta is completely torn apart by the dissection, leading to a medical emergency.
What are the symptoms of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection?
Most aortic aneurysms have no symptoms. However, with aortic dissection, the symptoms include:
Intense ripping pain in your chest or upper back
Numb or cold extremities
What are the causes of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection?
These conditions are commonly linked to uncontrolled high blood pressure or any of the following conditions:
Chronic high blood pressure that affects the aortic tissue and makes it more prone to tearing
Congenital conditions that weaken and dilate the aorta’s wall (including Mafran's syndrome and bicuspid aortic valve)
Motor vehicle accidents (in rare cases) which may lead to aortic dissections due to traumatic injury to the chest
Other causes such as:
What are the complications and related diseases of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection?
An aortic dissection can affect the blood supply to various parts of the body. This can lead to:
Damage to the aortic valve (aortic regurgitation)
Organ damage (including kidneys, intestines, heart, and brain)