Aortic Dissection

Aortic dissection is a type of aneurysm. Aortic aneurysm in most cases is a rupture to weakened or stressed blood vessels due to high blood pressure. The type of dissection that occurs is dependent on the locale in the aorta. The most serious and often fatal type of aortic dissection is a rupture that occurs within close proximity to the heart. Aortic dissection can also occur in the abdominal portion of the aorta. Similar to blisters, which happen due to friction separating the epidermis from the dermis layers of the skin, aortic dissections are separations of the inner wall of the artery from the middle layer. If blood build up causes the outer wall of the artery to burst, the resulting hemorrhage can be fatal. Aortic dissection can be difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are so similar to other cardiac events and even strokes. Always err on the side of caution if any of the following symptoms are present and get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Even seconds count where cardiac or vascular events are concerned. Symptoms of an aortic dissection mimic heart attacks or strokes. Symptoms of aortic dissection are:

  • Chest pain described as a tearing or ripping feeling that radiates down teh back or up the neck.
  • Dyspnea or shortness of breath
  • Becoming unconscious
  • Pulse may be weaker in one arm than the other.
  • Stroke-like symptoms such as paralysis on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or vision
  • Sweating

Risk factors for increasing one’s chance of having an aortic dissection are:

  • Being male
  • Being hypertensive
  • Having high cholesterol or existing arterial plaques (atherosclerosis)
  • Age 60 to 70
  • Having weakened or bulging arteries (pre-existing aneurysms)
  • Having aortic valve defect
  • Pregnancy (sometimes aortic dissection happens for no apparent reason to otherwise healthy women during pregnancy)
  • Cocaine use

Aortic dissections are sometimes misdiagnosed- this can be due to the symptoms appearing like other conditions, or other factors. Unfortunately, this is not a condition that time can be spared with. Misdiagnosing, or failing to diagnose an aortic dissection can mean permanent paralysis, stroke, organ/ vascular damage, or death for the victim. If you or a loved one suffered a worsening of condition or death after an aortic dissection misdiagnosis, you may be eligible for damages. Let the experts at the Sweeney Law Firm review the facts to see if you have a medical malpractice case. There is no fee for representation unless there is a settlement or recovery of funds for you.