Do connective tissue disorders affect the aorta?

Murray H. Kwon, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
People with connective tissue disorders such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are at an increased risk for aortic complications, such as rupture or dissection. Early screening and evaluation for potential treatment is therefore recommended. The same applies to people who have a family history of aortic complications such as aneurysms, ruptures or dissections.
Connective tissues significantly affect the aorta because the aorta is exposed to high shear stress, or pressure from the constant flow of blood.
Connective tissue disorders significantly affect the aorta. The reason is because the aorta is essentially a tube that carries blood throughout the body. It is exposed to high shear stress. This pressure will ultimately expand the wall, if the structure (connective tissue) is abnormal. Think of it is a weakened piece of pipe. If the pressure in that pipe is high, the pipe will ultimately burst. It is not particularly different with the aorta.

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