Aortic dissection symptoms may be similar to those of other heart problems, such as a heart attack. Typical signs and symptoms include:

  • Sudden severe chest or upper back pain, often described as a tearing, ripping or shearing sensation, that radiates to the neck or down the back
  • Loss of consciousness (fainting)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden difficulty speaking, loss of vision, weakness, or paralysis of one side of your body, such as having a stroke
  • Sweating
  • Weak pulse in one arm compared to the other

When to see a doctor

If you have signs or symptoms such as severe chest pain, fainting, sudden onset of shortness of breath, or symptoms of a stroke, call 911 or emergency medical assistance. While experiencing such symptoms doesn't always mean that you have a serious problem, it's best to get checked out quickly. Early detection and treatment may help save your life.

Nov. 11, 2011