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 Aortic Dissection Cannot be Detected; Some Vascular Diseases can be Detected Early

December 7, 2010   Contact: Sue Crosson-Knutson   312-334-2311
CHICAGO - “Unfortunately, aortic dissections - such as the one that took the life of esteemed US diplomat Richard Holbrooke - occur suddenly and without prior symptoms,” said Donna Mendez, MD, associate clinical professor of surgery, Columbia University and member of the Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS).
Dr. Mendez states that vascular disease is common among Caucasian American men who are more than 65 years of age. Additional risk factors for vascular disease include smoking, a family history of aneurysms, hypertension, and high blood pressure.
“Aortic dissections can be either acute or chronic,” stated Dr. Mendez. “It is called a dissection because there is a tear in the inner layer of the aorta. Because the aorta has several layers, the tear can cause blood to ‘dissect’ down through the other layers or rupture to the outside. When it ‘dissects’ down the layers of the aorta, a hematoma forms. This is known as a false lumen.
“Tight blood pressure control is mandatory to prevent further dissection. A tear can occur in a normal aortic wall if the blood pressure is high and it can occur in damaged aortic walls due to hormonal changes and genetic changes.”
Acute aortic dissection is the most common catastrophe affecting the aorta exceeding that of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. The most common presenting symptom is severe pain. The pain is so severe that the patient will seek medical attention urgently. Depending upon where the dissection occurs, the pain can be anterior or posterior. Acute aortic dissections tend to occur in men who have hypertension.
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The Society for Vascular Surgery® is a not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of vascular surgeons, that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for 3,350 specialty-trained vascular surgeons and other medical professionals who are dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease. Visit its website at® and follow SVS on Twitter at as well as on Facebook, Linkedin, and YouTube.
Aortic Dissection Cannot be Detected; Some Vascular Diseases can be Detected Early - US Diplomat Richard Holbrooke Died of an Aortic Dissection

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