Aneurysm: A bulge or “ballooning” in the wall of an artery.
Angiography: A procedure to see blood flow in a vessel using X-rays.
Aortic Insufficiency/Aortic Regurgitation: A condition that occurs when the aortic valve does not close properly. This leakage allows blood to flow back into the heart when it is pumping blood to the body.
Aortic Stenosis: A thickening of the aortic valve. This thickening prevents the valve from working properly.
Aortic Valve: Allows blood to flow from the heart’s left ventricle into the aorta. It normally has 3 cusps.
Arrhythmia: An irregular beating of the heart. The heart can beat too fast, too slow, or in an irregular pattern.
Atherosclerosis: A buildup of plaque in the artery walls. This restricts blood flow to the rest of the body.
Bicuspid Aortic Valve: An abnormal aortic valve with 2 cusps instead of 3.
Blood Pressure: The pressure measured as blood is pumped through the blood vessels. Normal blood pressure is around 120 systolic (peak pressure in the arteries) over 80 diastolic (lowest pressure in the arteries).
Cardiac Catheterization: A procedure in which a catheter, a thin flexible tube, is passed into the right or left side of the heart. This procedure can be used to diagnose cardiovascular conditions, or can be used to provide treatment for heart conditions such as to remove a blockage during a heart attack.
Cardiac Tamponade: Accumulation of fluid around the heart. This stops the heart from properly pumping blood to the rest of the body.
Cardioplegic Solution: A solution used during surgery to paralyze the heart. This protects the heart from cell death during surgery.
Cardiopulmonary Bypass: A procedure in which a machine takes over the function of the heart and lungs. It is used during surgery to maintain blood circulation and oxygenation to the body while surgeons operate on the heart and aorta.
Cerebral Perfusion: Blood flow to the brain.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): A chronic lung disease that makes it hard to breath. Less air than usual is able to flow in and out of the lungs.
Chronic Renal Insufficiency/Chronic Kidney Disease:
Comorbidity: The presence of one or more additional diseases at the time of your dissection.
Connective Tissue Disorders: A group of disorders that affect the parts of the body that connect the structures of the body together. Several of these disorders are associated with an increased frequency of aortic dissections.
Creatine Kinase (CK): An enzyme found in the heart, brain, and skeletal muscles. High amounts of Creatine Kinase in the blood mean that the heart, brain, or muscles suffered damage.
Computed Tomography (CT) scan: A test that combines a series of x-rays to provide a detailed image of the body. When a dye is injected into the arteries, physicians have a detailed picture of the blood vessels.
Dacron: A manmade material used to replace some body tissues. It is well tolerated by the body and causes very few reactions.
Dyspnea: Shortness of breath.
Echocardiogram: A test that uses sound waves to view the heart and nearby structures. A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is taken over the chest and a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is taken through your throat and esophagus. No radiation is involved in this test.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: A genetic connective tissue disorder. The severity may range from mild to life-threatening. Common symptoms include extremely flexible joints, eye lens dislocation, and bone deformities.
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): A non-invasive test in which the electrical signals generated by the heart are recorded. EKGs are often used to help diagnose heart problems, such as heart attacks.
Endovascular Management: A less invasive procedure than surgery in which the surgeon accesses the dissection by a catheter, a thin flexible tube, inserted through a large artery in your arm or leg and pushed through the blood vessel to your aorta.
Fenestration: An endovascular procedure in which the surgeon creates small openings between the true and false lumens to allow blood to flow and equalize the pressure between the two lumens.
Giant Cell Arteritis: Inflammation of large and medium-sized blood vessels such as those in the head or the aorta.
Great Vessel Injury: Physicians may refer to a “great vessel” injury. This refers to large vessels such as the aorta, vena cava (large vessels that return blood to the heart), and pulmonary arteries and veins (blood vessels that carry blood to and from the lungs). Great vessel injuries may often occur during penetrating trauma or after sudden decelerations such as a car accident.
Hypertension: Also known as high blood pressure. Hypertension is typically diagnosed when blood pressure is above 140 systolic or 90 diastolic on two separate occasions.
Hypothermic Circulatory Arrest: A surgical technique used during aortic surgery that cools the body to very cold temperatures. This temporarily stops blood flow without causing harm and allows surgery on the aorta.
Iatrogenic: Inadvertently caused by a physician or surgeon.
Inflammation: A process by which the body’s white blood cells protect us against disease and infection.
Inflammatory Diseases: Conditions in which the body’s immune system attacks normal tissues as if they were infected or abnormal.
Ischemia: An inadequate blood supply to a specific part of the body.
Loeys-Dietz Syndrome: A genetic connective tissue disorder. The severity may range from mild to life-threatening. Common symptoms include widely spaced eyes, flexible joints, and easily bruised skin.
Lumen: A channel inside of a vessel for blood to flow through. In aortic dissections, a second channel is created through which blood flows. This is called the false lumen.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A non-invasive test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to provide a detailed picture of the body. However, it requires patients to remain still for more than 30 minutes and is not readily available in emergencies.
Malperfusion: A lack of or substantial decrease in blood flow to an affected area of the body.
Marfan Syndrome: A genetic connective tissue disorder. The severity may range from mild to life-threatening. Common symptoms include a very tall and thin frame, flexible joints, and eye lens dislocation.
Mitral Valve Disease: A disease that occurs when the valve between the two left heart chambers does not work properly. Mitral valve stenosis is the narrowing of the valve opening so not enough blood can flow through, while mitral valve regurgitation is the leaking of the valve so blood flows backwards.
Murmur: An extra or unusual sound made by blood moving in the heart and valves. Murmurs may be harmless, while others may need further investigation.
Myocardial Infarction (MI): Commonly known as a Heart Attack. An MI happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked, causing damage to the heart muscle.
Pallor: An abnormal loss of color from normal skin.
Paraplegia: Complete loss of strength and control of the legs and lower part of the body.
Paraparesis: Partial loss of strength and control of the legs and lower part of the body.
Pericardial Effusion: Excess fluid around the heart in the pericardium.
Pericarditis: Inflammation in the pericardium.
Pericardium: A sac around the heart.
Pulmonary Embolism: A sudden blockage of an artery in the lungs.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Chronic inflammation of the tissue around the joints, as well as other parts of the body.
Rupture: An aortic rupture is when the aorta bursts open.
Shock: A life-threatening lack of blood flow to the body.
Stent Graft (TEVAR): An endovascular procedure in which the surgeon covers the torn portion of the aorta.
Syphilitic Aortitis: Inflammation of the aorta caused by the sexually transmitted disease syphilis.
Takayasu’s Arteritis: A rare inflammatory disease of the aorta and its main branches.
Turner Syndrome: A chromosomal abnormality in which a female is missing or partially missing an X chromosome. Turner syndrome is associated with an increased frequency of cardiovascular problems that increase the patient’s risk of aortic dissections..
Tricuspid Valve Disease: A disease that occurs when the valve between the two right heart chambers does not work properly. Tricuspid valve stenosis is the narrowing of the valve opening so not enough blood can flow through, while tricuspid valve regurgitation is the leaking of the valve so blood flows backwards.
Troponin: A group of 3 proteins found in the heart. High amounts of Troponin in the blood mean that the heart suffered damage.
Vasculitis: An inflammation of the blood vessels, which includes arteries, veins, and capillaries.
X-Ray: A quick test that provides an image of the body.