Aortic Dissection (cont.)

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What are the causes of aortic dissection?

It is uncertain as to why the initial tear (rent) occurs in the intima layer of the aortic wall. Aortic dissection tends to occur most commonly in men between the ages of 50 and 70.

High blood pressure: Most cases (over 70%) are associated with high blood pressure (hypertension). The aorta has to withstand significant pressure changes with each heartbeat, and it may be that over time with hypertension, a weakening of an area of the intima will occur.

Some conditions increase the risk of aortic dissection or are associated with the condition, including:

Pregnancy: Pregnancy is a rare associated risk factor, especially in the third trimester and early in the postpartum period.

Trauma: Blunt trauma is known to cause aortic dissection, which is often seen after car wrecks in which the patient's chest hits the steering wheel.

Surgical complications: Aortic dissection can be a complication of medical operations including coronary artery bypass grafting and aortic and mitral valve repairs. It can also be a complication of heart catheterization.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/5/2012

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