About the aorta What is aortic disease? Who is at risk of aortic disease? Aortic disease can occur in anyone but those most at risk are those who have a history of longstanding high blood pressure or other risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis (the build-up of cholesterol-rich plaques in arteries). These risk factors are increasingly well-known to all but include smoking, diabetes and a family history of atherosclerotic disease. These so-called atherosclerotic aneurysms become more common with advancing age and are much more common in men than women. There is a second large group of people who have an hereditary syndrome causing a generalised weakness of their arteries leading to the formation of aneurysms at a much younger age. Examples of this sort of syndrome include Marfan's syndrome, Ehlers-Danos syndrome and Loeys-Dietz syndrome. Indeed, as techniques for detecting the faulty genes responsible for these syndromes become more widely available more and more syndromes are being recognised and characterised.