Experts Suggest Prevention Is Key For This Life-Threatening Heart Condition

With every beat, your heart is at the center of you living a long and healthy life. However, many Americans are faced with heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Along with poor lifestyle choices, health conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes put people at an increased risk for heart disease.

New research in the Journal of the American Heart Association has shown that a heart condition, called aortic dissection (AoD), has caused death rates to increase for women and Black adults over the past decade. Aortic dissection occurs when the main heart artery, the aorta, has a tear inside the inner layer. The tear usually occurs in a weakened area of the aorta. When blood rushes through the tear, it causes the inner and middle layers of the aorta to split, which can lead to death (via Mayo Clinic).

Prevention of aortic dissection risk factors can lower death rates

According to American Heart Association, Dr. Salik Nazir, lead author of the study and cardiology fellow at the University of Toledo Medical Center and ProMedica Toledo Hospital in Ohio, believes the increasing death rates indicate that "we have more room to improve in the prevention and management of aortic dissections." He stated that "risk factors such as uncontrolled hypertension, obesity, smoking, diabetes and older age have been increasing within the United States, plausibly explaining our important findings."

According to American Heart Association, the study revealed that Black adults experienced a 4% yearly increase in death due to aortic dissections from 2012 to 2019. Dr. Nazir believes that social determinants, such as structural racism, could impact increased death rates seen among Black people. He stated, "Furthermore, residents of medically underserved areas have unequal access to health care resources to control their blood pressure, diabetes or other potential risk factors for AoD."

Additionally, the annual increase of aortic dissection was higher in women than in men. Dr. Nazir said that aortic dissection symptoms may be overlooked in women because they do not present the same as they do in men, making it more difficult to diagnose (per the American Heart Association).