Acute aortic syndrome is a serious heart condition where the aorta, the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the rest of the body, malfunctions due to a tear (dissection), bleeding in the wall of the aorta (a hematoma), or an ulceration. Acute aortic syndromes are life-threatening and require immediate medical care. Statistics suggest that the risk of mortality increases quickly after the onset of an acute aortic dissection, so rapid diagnosis and treatment is critical.
Acute aortic syndromes occur in two groups of people. Most tend to be older people (65 years+) who have conditions such as high blood pressure or atherosclerosis. Another group is younger patients who may have a genetic predisposition, such as a connective tissue disorder like Marfan syndrome, or have experienced trauma. In cases where a patient has a genetic predisposition, physicians may recommend that family members also undergo screening and genetic testing to assess their risk of developing an acute aortic syndrome.