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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 or bicuspid aortic valve. Rarely, aortic dissections may be 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 is the more common and dangerous type of aortic dissection. It involves a tear in the part of the aorta just where it exits the heart or a tear extending from the upper to lower parts of the aorta, which may extend into the abdomen.
  • Type B. This type involves a tear in the lower aorta only, which may also extend into the abdomen.
Nov. 11, 2011