Spotting Exploding Hearts

Aortic dissection can be identified with a simple bedside test

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) We know heart problems are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. That's why it is important to spot people who are at risk sooner, rather than later. One of the deadliest heart conditions is hardest to diagnose.

But if doctors follow new guidelines, they may be able to save lives, according to a recent study. A simple, bedside test can help doctors spot signs of aortic dissection - a condition that happens with the body's largest blood vessel gets torn. The test allows doctors to quickly and easily screen large amounts of patients for this deadly condition.

"Ask your doctor if your heart condition should be tested."

According to senior author Kim A. Eagle, M.D., director of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, this new test can identify the majority of patients with aortic dissection. Researchers studied the effectiveness of an aortic dissection detection risk score, which is generated by an easy-to-use bedside tool.

The symptoms of aortic dissection usually include sudden and intense pain. In fact, people who have suffered an aortic dissection often say it is the most painful thing that has ever happened to them.

The signs of the condition often lead doctors to believe that aortic dissection is another heart problem, says Adam M. Rogers, M.D., from the University of Michigan and one of the study's authors. Patients with acute aortic dissection often had a sudden onset of intense pain that they described as ripping or tearing.

The Study

  • The study involved 2,583 patients from the International Registry of Acute Aortic Dissection
  • 95 percent of patients had at least one of the clinical risk markers involved in generating a risk score
  • 86 percent of patients had at least two of the risk markers
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Review Date: 
May 16, 2011
Last Updated:
May 18, 2011