Study findings have uncovered that deadly heart problems can run in the family. Co-author Dr. John Elefteriades said, “Family history is very important and is one factor in our ‘guilt by association paradigm’ for identifying patients at risk.”
The researchers reviewed family histories of 90 people treated for an aortic dissection. The researchers found that more than half of those cases within the same family occurred within a 10-year age span and the risk increased with certain age groups.
For example, cases of aortic dissection that occurred between the ages of 30 and 49 resulted in 71 percent of family members developing aortic dissection between that age group as well. If person developed aortic dissection between the ages of 60 to 70 then 80 percent of family members would develop it during that age-period.
Elefteriades added, “If a family member suffered an aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection, chances are at least 1 in 8 that you may experience something similar in the future. [These findings allow] us to better appreciate the playbook of aortic dissection. Knowing how dissection operates — in this case, at what age dissections are likely to occur in a specific family — permits us to combat it more effectively and save many lives.”
Aortic dissection is a sudden tear in one of the body’s main arteries. “If patients are approaching the age at which one of their family members suffered an aortic dissection, they need to be very vigilant. If patients have aneurysms in their family, get checked. If they have premature sudden death in their family, get checked. If they themselves have an aneurysm, comply with regular follow-up visits,” Elefteriades concluded.