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 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 the risk of rupture/dissection is therefore deemed very high.