Background: Genetic aortic syndromes are autosomal-dominantly heritable aneurysms of the thoracic aorta, which carry a high risk of aortic rupture or acute thoracic aortic dissection at young age.
Objectives: We introduce the reader to the principles of genetic diagnostics and the medical and surgical prevention of thoracic aortic dissection in patients with genetic aortic syndromes.
Methods: A cardiologist, a health economist, a patient representative, a heart surgeon, and a molecular geneticist teamed up to elucidate their perspective on major aspects of genetics and prevention of genetic aortic syndromes.
Results: Genetic aortic syndromes reflect a broad spectrum of diverse disease entities comprising the Marfan syndrome, the Loeys-Dietz syndrome or the vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The diagnosis of each respective disease entity requires combined assessment of phenotype and genotype information. A medical prevention of aortic complications such as dissection is mandatory although a curative therapy currently appears unlikely in humans. The single most important measure against acute aortic dissection is the preventive replacement of the aortic root, where valve preserving techniques appear preferable. Comprehensive prophylaxis including molecular diagnostics seem reasonable also from an economic point of view.
Discussion: Optimal prevention requires individualization of concepts, which entail a detailed diagnostic characterization of each specific genetic aortic syndrome including characterization of the genotype.