What Is Aortic Dissection? Berserk Creator Kentaro Miura Dies of Heart Condition

Japanese manga artist Kentaro Miura, author of the critically-acclaimed Berserk series, passed away at the age of 54 this month as a result of acute aortic dissection, making global headlines.

Newsweek has collected some information about the condition, its symptoms, and its causes.

Aortic dissection is a condition that affects the heart. It occurs when there is a tear within the inner layer of the aorta, the largest blood vessel of the body that takes blood from the heart and supplies it elsewhere.

This tear leads to blood passing through the tear and between the layers that make up the aorta. If the blood escapes outside the wall of the aorta, the condition is often fatal, according to Mayo Clinic.

There are two different types of aortic dissection. The type a person has depends on where the aorta is affected.

Type A is the most common and dangerous type, in which the tear occurs in the part of the aorta that exits the heart, or in the upper aorta.

In Type B, the tear occurs in the lower aorta.

Aortic dissection tends to occur mostly in men in their 60s and 70s. Diagnosis of the condition may be delayed, because the symptoms of the disease can often be similar to other illnesses. Early detection and treatment improves chances of survival.

Symptoms may be similar to those seen in heart attack patients, for example, and can include sudden severe chest, abdominal, or upper back pain; shortness of breath; loss of consciousness; difficulty speaking; and weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.

Mayo Clinic recommends that anyone who experiences symptoms such as severe chest pain, fainting, sudden shortness of breath or stroke symptoms should immediately call 911.

According to MedicinePlus—a health information service which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health—the exact causes of aortic dissection are unknown. Mayo Clinic states it occurs at a weakened area of the aortic wall.

Still, some common risk factors have been identified. These include aging, being male, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high-intensity weightlifting, cocaine use, and a number of other diseases such as Turner's syndrome and Marfan syndrome.

Chest trauma, such as from a motor vehicle accident, may also cause aortic dissection.

Risk can be reduced by controlling blood pressure, avoiding smoking, wearing a seat belt whilst driving, and controlling weight.

Miura's death was announced on Thursday, and he passed away on May 6.

Berserk manga
Copies of manga instalments in the Berserk series pictured at the Paris Book Fair, France, in March 2019. Miura created the series. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty