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Top Ten Serious Causes of Abdominal Pain

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Aortic Dissection

The sudden onset of sharp pain felt in the chest is a distinctive sign of an aortic dissection. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. It arises from the left ventricle of the heart, moves up through the chest, and branches off in two directions. The ascending aorta goes toward the head while the descending aorta goes toward the abdomen. A tear or dissection in the inner lining layer of the aorta is a potentially life threatening condition. The associated pain can be described as stabbing, tearing or ribbing. It can be felt below the chest bone and progresses toward the shoulders, neck, jaw, back, arms, abdomen and hips. Typically, pain that radiates to the arms and legs indicates worsening of the dissection.

Photo: Getty Images

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