What is an Aortic Dissection?
Written by Mike Cohen   
Monday, 05 October 2009
An aortic dissection is a tear in the inner layer of the wall of the aorta. The aorta is the largest artery in the body and is directly attached to the heart.
What is going on in the body?

The aorta and its branches carry all the blood from the heart out to the rest of the body.
When there is a weakening of the wall of the aorta for any reason, blood flow can cause a tear in the wall. This tear forms a tube or canal within the wall of the aorta. Though the aorta goes down into the abdomen, this condition usually starts in the chest. In some cases, blood flowing within this canal can reenter the aorta or perforate into the body and cause massive bleeding and even death.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Common causes of aortic dissection include:
- high blood pressure
- trauma to the chest, such as a crush injury from a motor vehicle accident
- hereditary diseases that weaken the wall of the aorta
- congenital heart disease, or heart abnormalities present at birth
- pregnancy
- any disease that weakens or damages the wall of the aorta
- surgery or other procedures, which may damage the aorta