Risk factors for aortic dissection include:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Weakened and bulging artery (pre-existing aortic aneurysm)
  • An aortic valve defect (bicuspid aortic valve)
  • A narrowing of the aorta at birth (aortic coarctation)

Certain genetic diseases increase the risk of having an aortic dissection, including:

  • Turner's syndrome. High blood pressure, heart problems and a number of other health conditions may result from this disorder.
  • Marfan syndrome. This is a condition in which connective tissue, which supports various structures in the body, is weak. People with this disorder often have a family history of aneurysms of the aorta and other blood vessels.
  • Other connective tissue disorders. This includes Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a group of connective tissue disorders characterized by skin that bruises or tears easily, loose joints and fragile blood vessels and Loeys-Dietz syndrome, with twisted arteries, especially in the neck.
  • Inflammatory or infectious conditions. These may include giant cell arteritis, which is an inflammation of the arteries, and syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection.

Other potential risk factors include:

  • Sex. Men have about double the incidence of aortic dissection.
  • Age. The incidence of aortic dissection peaks in the 60s and 80s.
  • Cocaine use. This drug may be a risk factor for aortic dissection because it temporarily raises blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy. Infrequently, aortic dissections occur in otherwise healthy women during pregnancy.
  • High-intensity weightlifting. This and other strenuous resistance training may increase risk of aortic dissection by increasing blood pressure during the activity.
Oct. 28, 2014

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.