Medication for Aortic Dissection

Type B aortic dissections are typically not at risk for immediate rupture, but a dissection can cause blood pressure to rise. Doctors at NYU Langone monitor people who have this type of aortic dissection and treat them with medications that lower blood pressure, the force of blood flow against the aortic wall.

By decreasing the stress of blood pressure on the aortic wall, these medications may reduce pain from the aortic dissection. They can also help prevent a dissection from worsening.

Antihypertensives

Beta blockers are often the first treatment for a type B aortic dissection. These medications reduce blood pressure by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, or adrenaline. This relaxes the heart, slowing it down. Less blood leaves the heart, and it leaves with less force.

If you can’t tolerate beta blockers, because you have another condition, such as diabetes, your doctor may prescribe another antihypertensive medication, such as a calcium channel blocker, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, or angiotensin receptor blocker. 

Sometimes, doctors prescribe beta blockers, which lower heart rate, to prepare the aorta for surgery.

Pain Medications

If controlling blood pressure doesn’t reduce the pain from a dissection, doctors may prescribe a pain medication, such as acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Taking aspirin, which can cause bleeding, can be fatal in someone with an aortic dissection and is never advised.

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