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  • An aortic dissection is a medical emergency in which the inner layer of the large blood vessel branching off the heart (aorta) tears. 
  • Missed or misdiagnoses of an aortic dissection is deadly
  • In the absence of surgery, 80% of patients will die within two weeks and 40% within 24 hours.
  • Aortic Dissections are most common in men in their 60s and 70s.



A Dangerous and Often Lethal Condition

-Caused by a tear or an aneurysm in the Aorta – an important artery in the heart – resulting in bleeding into the wall of the aorta. 

-My present with symptoms of sudden and severe chest pain, shortness of breath, sudden difficulty speaking, and shortness of breath. 

-Most often due to high blood pressure, hardening arteries, weakened or bulging arteries, or genetic disorders.

Patients with acute aortic dissection usually present clinically with an insignificant medical history, leading to a high probability of misdiagnosis. There are many ways to identify and confirm when an aortic dissection has occurred – they may be evident through aortic angiography, chest x-rays, MRIs, echocardiogram, CT scans, or ultrasonography. If not identified and treated quickly, aortic dissections are often fatal. Doctors have the tools to identify and address this condition and should be expected to properly diagnose when a dissection has occurred.

Even so, a study titled “Factors leading to failure to diagnose acute aortic dissection in the emergency room” found that a misdiagnosis of an aortic dissection occurred in 16% observed cases. Statistically, that is 1 in 6 cases. There is a general belief that the actual misdiagnosis rate is higher. Tragically, the failure to diagnose an acute aortic dissection can result in death.


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Frischman & Rizza
7300 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15208
(412) 247-7300