Risk Factors for Aortic Dissection
The main preventable risk factor for an aortic dissection is high blood pressure (hypertension). Over time, hypertension weakens the aortic wall, making it more likely to have a spontaneous tear involving the inner lining of the aorta. The tear exposes the middle of the wall to very high aortic blood pressure. This creates a separation that unzips the aorta between the layers which are pulled apart by the dissection process, leading to the double-barrel flow pattern. Other risk factors for aortic dissection include: Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which are inherited disorders of blood vessels and connective tissues; presence of aortic aneurysm or enlargement of the aorta; a family history of aortic dissection; and certain heart conditions such as a bicuspid aortic valve. Aortic dissection may also occur as a complication of open heart surgery or heart catheterization, although this is very rare.
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