Objectives: The goal of this study was to better characterize the young patient with aortic dissection (AoD).
Background: Aortic dissection is unusual in young patients, and frequently associated with unusual presentations.
Methods: Data were collected on 951 patients diagnosed with AoD between January 1996 and November 2001. Two categories of patients, <40 years and >or=40 years, were compared using chi-square cross tabulations for categorical and Student t test for continuous data.
Results: Sixty-eight patients (7%) with AoD were <40 years of age. Compared with patients >or=40 years, younger patients were less likely to have a prior history of hypertension (p < 0.05); however, younger patients were more likely to have Marfan syndrome, bicuspid aortic valve, and prior aortic surgery (all, p < 0.05). Clinical presentations in the two age groups were similar; however, younger patients were less likely to be hypertensive (25% vs. 45%, p = 0.003). The proximal aortas of young AoD patients were larger (all, p < 0.05) compared with older patients. These differences in aortic size between age groups were not entirely related to Marfan syndrome. Mortality among young patients was similar to patients >or=40 years of age (22% vs. 24%, p = NS), irrespective of the site of dissection.
Conclusions: Compared with older patients with AoD, young patients have unique risk factors for dissection: Marfan syndrome, bicuspid aortic valves, and larger aortic dimensions. Surprisingly, the mortality risk for young AoD patients is not lower than older AoD patients.