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