AHA/ACC Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Patients With Thoracic Aortic Disease (2010)

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Commentary by Reed E. Pyeritz, MD, PhD

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Aortic dissection: red flags for emergency triage staff

As the first point of contact in most emergency departments, triage staff play a vital role in assuring that patients receive proper care. Recognizing potentially life-threatening conditions and moving patients along in the treatment process is imperative to preventing adverse outcomes.

Fifty percent of patients with undiagnosed aortic dissection die with 48 hours. Dissections involving the aortic root and ascending aorta require immediate surgical intervention. Therefore, it is extremely important that emergency department triage staff can recognize the signs of aortic dissection, including some that are less common, and consider the bigger picture.

The material in this section provides a brief overview of aortic dissection and its risk factors. It reviews the “red flags” that should prompt immediate consideration of aortic dissection.

New feature: Interactive Pathways

Three of the key pathways in the Guidelines for acute aortic dissection (AoD) management and surgical intervention are now available here in an interactive format, enabling you to see at-a-glance the decision points and recommendations while providing links to more in-depth information.

The Interactive Pathways may be found here.