According to state data, someone sustains an injury in a traffic accident every 8.7 minutes in the Palmetto State. Car crashes on South Carolina’s many roadways also claim a life roughly every 9 hours.

While any automobile accident has the potential to cause you a variety of minor, moderate and severe organ injuries, a torn aorta is a medical emergency.

What is the aorta?

Your heart pumps blood throughout your body. When blood leaves your heart’s left ventricle, it passes through the aorta. Your body’s primary artery, a healthy aorta is essential for blood circulation.

How does an aorta tear?

Your rib cage, spine and muscles protect the aorta from damage. Still, the force of an automobile accident may be sufficient to cause the aorta to rupture. This is especially true if your body collides with a fixed object, such as your vehicle’s seat belt, steering wheel, dash or airbag.

What are the symptoms of a torn aorta?

A torn aorta is extremely dangerous, as it may cause rapid internal bleeding. Without immediate medical care, an aortic rupture is almost always fatal.

The following symptoms may be evidence of a torn or otherwise damaged aorta:

  • Sharp chest pain
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness, nausea or confusion

Because you may not have much time to respond to an aortic rupture, you must pay close attention to your body after a car accident. If you are unsure about your symptoms or overall health, err on the side of obtaining medical care.