Aortic Aneurysm & Dissection Details
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women, with half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2006 being women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The associated healthcare expenses will cost the United States over $316 billion in 2010.
One form of heart disease is aortic aneurysm and dissection. The aorta is an artery in your body that runs from your heart down the center of your chest and into your abdomen. Because this artery is the main supplier of the bodys blood, a rupture or dissection can be life-threatening.
Aortic aneurysm and dissection occur when the aorta stretches (aneurysm) and ruptures (dissection). With an aortic aneurysm, there is an underlying weakness in the aortas wall and the tissue stretches. With an aortic dissection the wall of the aorta tears, causing the blood to flow between the aortas walls and forcing the walls apart. If the aorta is completely torn open massive blood loss occurs and death is typical in 80 percent of patients.
Aortic aneurysms typically do not have any symptoms, although they may produce abdominal and back pain as they enlarge. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, anxiety, clammy skin and a rapid heart rate. Typically aortic dissection is linked to high blood pressure, with most individuals who experience a dissection feeling severe pain in the location of the dissection. Less common symptoms include congestive heart failure, syncope and cardiac arrest.
While the same amount of women die as men each year from heart disease, it is often thought of as a mans disease, so women often do not perceive themselves at risk. When caught early, heart disease can be managed and life prolonged. And yet, almost two-thirds of women who died suddenly of heart disease had no previous symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so it is essential to speak with a doctor if you think you are at risk.