ACC/AHA Issues Updated Guidance on Aortic Disease

Megan Brooks

November 03, 2022

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have published an updated guideline on the diagnosis and management of aortic disease, focusing on surgical intervention considerations, consistent imaging practices, genetic and familial screenings, and the importance of multidisciplinary care.

"There has been a host of new evidence-based research available for clinicians in the past decade when it comes to aortic disease. It was time to reevaluate and update the previous, existing guidelines," Eric M. Isselbacher, MD, MSc, chair of the writing committee, said in a statement.

"We hope this new guideline can inform clinical practices with up-to-date and synthesized recommendations, targeted toward a full multidisciplinary aortic team working to provide the best possible care for this vulnerable patient population," added Isselbacher, co-director of the Thoracic Aortic Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

The 2022 ACC/AHA Guideline for the Diagnosis and Management of Aortic Disease was simultaneously published online Nov. 2 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Circulation.

The new guideline replaces the 2010 ACCF/AHA Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Patients With Thoracic Aortic Disease and the 2015 Surgery for Aortic Dilation in Patients With Bicuspid Aortic Valves: A Statement of Clarification From the ACC/AHA Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines.

The new guideline is intended to be used with the 2020 ACC/AHA Guideline for the Management of Patients With Valvular Heart Disease.

It brings together guidelines for both the thoracic and abdominal aorta and is targeted to cardiovascular clinicians involved in the care of people with aortic disease, including general cardiovascular care clinicians and emergency medicine clinicians, the writing group says.

Among the key recommendations in the new guideline are the following:

  • Screen first-degree relatives of individuals diagnosed with aneurysms of the aortic root or ascending thoracic aorta, or those with aortic dissection to identify individuals most at risk for aortic disease. Screening would include genetic testing and imaging.

  • Be consistent in the way CT or MRI are obtained and reported; in the measurement of aortic size and features; and in how often images are used for monitoring before and after repair surgery or other intervention. Ideally, all surveillance imaging for an individual should be done using the same modality and in the same lab, the guideline notes.

  • For individuals who require aortic intervention, know that outcomes are optimized when surgery is performed by an experienced surgeon working in a multidisciplinary aortic team. The new guideline recommends "a specialized hospital team with expertise in the evaluation and management of aortic disease, in which care is delivered in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary manner."

  • At centers with multidisciplinary aortic teams and experienced surgeons, the threshold for surgical intervention for sporadic aortic root and ascending aortic aneurysms has been lowered from 5.5 cm to 5.0 cm in select individuals, and even lower in specific scenarios among patients with heritable thoracic aortic aneurysms.

  • In patients who are significantly smaller or taller than average, surgical thresholds may incorporate indexing of the aortic root or ascending aortic diameter to either patient body surface area or height, or aortic cross-sectional area to patient height.

  • Rapid aortic growth is a risk factor for rupture and the definition for rapid aneurysm growth rate has been updated. Surgery is now recommended for patients with aneurysms of aortic root and ascending thoracic aorta with a confirmed growth rate of ≥ 0.3 cm per year across 2 consecutive years or ≥ 0.5 cm in 1 year.

  • In patients undergoing aortic root replacement surgery, valve-sparing aortic root replacement is reasonable if the valve is suitable for repair and when performed by experienced surgeons in a multidisciplinary aortic team.

  • Patients with acute type A aortic dissection, if clinically stable, should be considered for transfer to a high-volume aortic center to improve survival. The operative repair of type A aortic dissection should entail at least an open distal anastomosis rather than just a simple supracoronary interposition graft.

  • For management of uncomplicated type B aortic dissection, there is an increasing role for thoracic endovascular aortic repair. Clinical trials of repair of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms with endografts are reporting results that suggest endovascular repair is an option for patients with suitable anatomy.

  • Shared decision-making between the patient and multidisciplinary aortic team is highly encouraged, especially when the patient is on the borderline of thresholds for repair or eligible for different types of surgical repair.

  • Shared decision-making should also be used with individuals who are pregnant or may become pregnant to consider the risks of pregnancy in individuals with aortic disease.

The guideline was developed in collaboration with and endorsed by the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the American College of Radiology, the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the Society for Vascular Medicine.

It has been endorsed by the Society of Interventional Radiology and the Society for Vascular Surgery.

J Am Coll Cardiol. Published online Nov. 2, 2022. Abstract.

Circulation. Published online Nov. 2, 2022. Abstract.

For more news, follow Medscape on  Facebook,   Twitter,   Instagram, and  YouTube.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.