Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection

I am currently (24 January 2011) suffering from Chronic Type A Aortic Dissection.

I have been suffering from breathlessness for some weeks and was eventually persuaded by my wife to visit our GP. He thought my problems could be caused by anaemia and arranged for some blood tests. He also arranged for a chest X-ray. The results showed no abnormalities.

As luck would have I was due to see my stroke consultant (I had a stroke two years ago today!) a couple of days later. He suggested I should have a CT scan and told me to make an appointment. The next day, last Friday, I was surprised to get a call from the hospital to arrange an appointment. They offered me Monday but I said I couldn't as I was due to start a new contract role. I asked if they had anything for today and they were able to offer me an appointment at 1:30!  I had my scan and was just about to go home when a nurse whisked me round to the ED. I was starting to get worried now and was eventually told what was the problem. They immediately put me on to tri-nitro glycerine to bring my BP below 100 and before long I was on my way to Bristil Royal Infirmary by blue light ambulance. I am now in the high dependency cardiac unit where I am awaiting some more tests tomorrow (angiogram and echo-cardiogram) and an operation later this week. So far I guess I have been very lucky. Lucky they picked it up before it ruptured, and lucky I have no pain at all, and lucky they can carry out a planned operation. Apart from some breathlessness, I feel perfectly fine apart from the fact that it feels like I'm walking round with a ticking bomb waiting to explode any minute. And of course I have a nice little operation to look forward to! I am still trying to get over the shock.  Everything has happened so fast!

Anyone had a similar experience? Any advice or words of wisdom from any survivors would be most welcome.  I will try and keep you up to date as I progress towards my op and through recovery.

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Tags: Type A, aortic, chronic, dissection

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Comment by Paul Altilia on January 29, 2011 at 6:05


I am wishing you and your family the best for your recovery. You will be amazed at the resiliancy of our bodies. I too had a Stanford Type A and a DeBakey Type 1 dissection.  I now have a dacron graft as an ascending aorta and I was blessed to have my arotic valve spared and repaired. Feel free to read my story and I am happy offer any support I can in your recovery. It will get easier and it sounds like you are surrounded by the best kind of loving support from your family.  That certainly went a long way in helping with my healing...... Best regards, Paul

Comment by Graeme on January 25, 2011 at 9:40



most of our collective wisdom is already passed to you as Cheryl said - you ARE lucky in that it is known before you go in and maximum prep can be done...Also as said be prepared for the mental recovery.. this little number (an AD) plays havoc with you mental state post recovery and physically as well it takes at least 3-4 months before your chest starts to feel 'normal' again.. in the meantime - although it is VERY beneficial - post op - DO NOT laugh or - especially sneeze.. wow - that really hurts... but - your are going to be fine..use this site and us - the members - as often as you like - we will be here for you!





Comment by Kimberlee Jones on January 25, 2011 at 6:07
Hi David. All of us here know what you are going through. Prepare yourself for not only a physically recovery but it some ways the harder, the mental recovery. I was fortunate in the fact that I had no time to process what was going on until after the surgery. I was whisked straight from echo to the OR for an emergency c-section followed by AD repair surgery the next morning. Like others have said it is good they have discovered before a rupture that makes your chance of survival good. Remember part of survival is your own mind, your own will.  I also felt fine before they discovered my pain for me either. I just had a tiny bit of pressure in the center of my chest. I also developed another AD about 6 weeks after my surgery..this one is being monitored with CT scan once a year, so I do understand that ticking time bomb feeling, I think we all do. Keep positive and please keep us updated and if you have any questions, please ask. Between us all, one of us knows should be able to tackle anything you might throw our way. *hugs*
Comment by Carol Pont on January 25, 2011 at 1:18
Hi David. I had emergency surgery on 28.08.10 Mine ruptured and i done the blue lights too Papworth Hospital. But no chance of waiting for surgery. I was straight in the door too the operating theatre. Its now 21 weeks post operation. My thoughts are with you. Keep in touch.
Comment by Cheryl Kerber on January 24, 2011 at 23:27

First off, my best wishes and thoughts will be with you as you progress through this week, through your surgery, and post. 

I know it's alot on your plate right now, but yes, you are one of the lucky ones as they caught it before hand.  People (like on this site) do survive - even after the actual dissection.

Try to go into it the best you can with good spirits as I do believe it helps in recovery after (if you have access to healing touch type of work and are open to it - it's a hands off way of helping destress and relax before surgery).  Or load yourself with humor this week before your surgery.  It won't change how you feel coming out, but it at least gives your body some positive endorphins instead of fearful ones like in an emergency situation. 

Be willing to accept help from those around you, as you would if the shoe was on the other foot.  It's not easy, as we all think we can handle everything on our own.

Be patient with yourself as your body will need time mentally and physically to recooperate.  If they say a couple months, they mean a couple months and probably then some. 

My surgery was for the descending thoracic aorta, and I still have my dissected abdominal aortic aneurysm as the surgery would have been too extensive.  So, I can only speak from my own experience.


Keep in touch, as the waiting time plays havoc on our mental state and anxiety - it's not like we want to have surgery, but at least once it's over, we can move forward to healing instead of waiting and thinking, thinking, and thinking.

I'm thankful you were able to find this site so quickly as it took me 6 years of searching (thanks Graeme!!!).

No question is a stupid question.

And just know, you got a whole lot of us behind you, around you - even if only by internet!!

Take care --- cher


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