Objectives: We attempted to determine whether a family history of severe cardiovascular disease in patients with the Marfan syndrome is associated with increased aortic dilation or decreased survival, or both.
Background: The prognostic importance of a family history of severe cardiovascular disease in patients with the Marfan syndrome has been incompletely examined. We hypothesized that such a family history would correlate with increased aortic dilation and would be associated with decreased survival.
Methods: One hundred eight affected patients and 48 unaffected family members from 33 multigenerational families with the Marfan syndrome underwent echocardiographic measurement of the aortic root, arch and mid-abdominal aorta. Date of birth and age at death ascertained from family pedigrees were used to perform life table analysis and estimate survival.
Results: Aortic root and arch diameters were significantly greater in patients with a family history of severe cardiovascular disease than in patients without such a family history. Of subjects in the highest quartile for aortic size, > 80% had such a family history in contrast to < 10% of those in the lowest quartile (chi-square 57.37, p < 0.00001). Mean age at death and cumulative probability of survival were significantly lower in patients with such a family history.
Conclusions: Among patients with the Marfan syndrome, aortic dilation is greater and life expectancy shorter in those with a family history of severe cardiovascular manifestations. These data suggest that such a family history is an important risk factor for cardiovascular events in patients with the Marfan syndrome.