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Paul F Clift and Elena Cervi

Aortic diseases may be diagnosed after a long period of subclinical development or they may have an acute presentation. Acute aortic syndrome is often the first sign of the disease, which needs rapid diagnosis and decision making to reduce the extremely poor prognosis. Aortic dilatation is a well-recognised risk factor for acute events and can occur as a result of trauma, infection, or, most commonly, from an intrinsic abnormality in the elastin and collagen components of the aortic wall. Over the years it has become clear that a few monogenic syndromes are strongly associated with aneurysms and often dictate a severe presentation in younger patients while the vast majority have a multifactorial pathogenesis. Conventional cardiovascular risk factors and ageing play an important role. Management strategy is based on prevention consisting of regular follow-up with cross-sectional imaging, chemoprophylaxis of further dilatation with drugs proved to slow down the disease progression and preventative surgery when dimension exceeds internationally recognised cut-off values for aortic diameters and the risk of rupture/dissection is therefore deemed very high.