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Medication for Aortic Dissection

Unlike type A aortic dissections that require surgery, type B aortic dissections are often treated with medications that lower blood pressure.

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Type B dissections typically respond well to medical treatment that decreases the stress of blood pressure on the aortic wall. This reduces pain from the aortic dissection and helps prevent the tear from worsening.

Beta Blockers and Other Antihypertensive Medications

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 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.

Our Research and Education in Aortic Dissection

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.