Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection
On June 28, 2010 I was co-chairing a golf tournament and while driving home after a very long day, I felt pressure in the middle of my chest and tightness in my jaw. I knew what this meant but thought I was just over tired and I would be fine after a good night's sleep. I woke the next morning and was fine. I followed my usual routine of coffee, newspaper and cigarettes and as I sat down to check my emails, my heart began to race and I became light heading. I sat trying to calm myself and wait for this to pass but it didn't. I got up and went to my bed to try and calm my heart and get my breath but it did not subside.
After 5 minutes I called 911. The fire department and paramedics arrived and I was taken to the nearest hospital in downtown Vancouver by the paramedics. I was admitted to emergency and placed on a heart monitor. I was sick to my stomach and I was feeling a dull pain in my ribs on my left side. I was given something to reduce the nausia. I was given a chest x-ray and spent the entired day in emergency. I was released by 5pm and told to return the next day for a stress test which I did and passed without incident.
Still not feeling well the next week I saw my family doctor who decided to send me for an abdominal ultra-sound. My hemoglobin was low and he thought I may have passed a kidney stone. The first available date for the ultra-sound was August 13th and it was then that the "chronic" aortic dissection was discovered. I was told that I had survived the acute phase and I was place on Ramipril to reduce my blood pressure. A CT scan was booked for August 19th and it was then that I learned that I had a type one DeBakey dissection that originated in the ascending aorta and extended into my abdomen. I was sent to Vancouver General Hospital immediately to meet with a thorasic surgeon who then arranged for an echocardiogram and a gated CT scan in the following weeks. By September 13th the results revealed that my aortic root had diltated to 60mm and it was time to operate. The surgery took place Sept. 16th. It took 10.5 hours. Dr. Janusz performed a David Procedure which involves an aortic valve repair and aortic root replacement.
Recovery has been excellent. I was cleared to return to work Nov. 1st. I have started a 4 month exercise program 2 mornings a week at the hospital and I am supplementing that starting Feb. 5th with two additional mornings with a personal trainer. Both are overseen by my cardiologist and a nurse specializing in rehab for open heart surgery patience.
I have a follow-up CT scan in March with my surgeon and another in Sept. with my cardiologist. I have be told that we will continue to monitor the dissection in the decending aorta and that will need to closely manage my blood pressure to consistently mantian it under 120/80.
I am blessed to have survived the misdiagnosis from June 29th to August 13th and I am very grateful for the fabulous medical system we have in Canada. I am looking forward to hearing from fellow survivors as to how they are managing their dissection and ensure I am doing all I can to maximize the quality of my life.
Thanks for reading...... Paul Altilia
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