CausesBy Mayo Clinic Staff
An aortic dissection occurs in a weakened area of the aortic wall. Chronic high blood pressure may stress the aortic tissue, making it more susceptible to tearing. You can also be born with a condition associated with a weakened and enlarged aorta, such as Marfan syndrome, bicuspid aortic valve or other rarer conditions associated with weakening of the walls of the blood vessels. Rarely, aortic dissections are caused by traumatic injury to the chest area, such as during motor vehicle accidents.
Aortic dissections are divided into two groups, depending on which part of the aorta is affected:
Oct. 28, 2014
- Type A. This more common and dangerous type involves a tear in the part of the aorta where it exits the heart or a tear in the upper aorta (ascending aorta), which may extend into the abdomen.
- Type B. This involves a tear in the lower aorta only (descending aorta), which may also extend into the abdomen.
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- AskMayoExpert. Thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- JCS Joint Working Group. Guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection. Circulation Journal. 2013;77:789.
- Prevention: What you can do. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/what_you_can_do.htm. Accessed Sept. 8, 2014.