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:

  • 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.
Oct. 28, 2014

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.