In addition to atherosclerotic disease, there are a number of vascular diseases which also cause sudden death. In most cases, death does not occur as rapidly as it does when there is a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. The following are some of the more common vascular diseases or disorders which cause sudden unexpected death.
1. Ruptured cerebral aneurysm — Aneurysms
(a weakening and ballooning of a blood vessel) of the brain may rupture during a time of stress, a sudden increase in blood pressure, or during a nonstressful occasion. A ruptured vessel may be discovered at autopsy in an individual who has fallen and received other fatal injuries. In this unusual circumstance, the rupture precedes the fall and is not caused by the fall.
2. Pulmonary thromboemboli — The vast majority of emboli (blood clots which break away and travel from their site of origin) originate in the deep veins of the lower extremities. They most commonly develop in individuals who become bedridden after surgical procedures and in anyone whose activity level decreases suddenly. Sudden death occurs when large ones break away, travel through the heart, and plug up the blood vessels leading to the lungs.
3. Ruptured aortic aneurysms — Aneurysms of the aorta commonly occur in the abdomen where the aorta divides into the vessels that take blood to the legs. The aorta is especially prone to develop atherosclerosis and weakening of the vessel wall at this location. Most of these aneurysms are diagnosed prior to rupture and can be dealt with surgically. Unfortunately, some rupture unexpectedly and death usually happens quickly.
4. Acute aortic dissection — Acute aortic dissection is associated with high blood pressure and other uncommon disorders. The aortic wall splits apart, causing considerable pain and death unless the dissection occurs close to or in a hospital where care can be provided immediately. Aortic dissections are also seen in cocaine and methampheta-mine abusers.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.