It is silent, unknown and highly lethal. It is still often misdiagnosed in the ER (emergency room) in hospitals all over the world for a heart attack, stress, flu, angina etc.
Many persons unfortunately die in vain every year, due to lack of knowledge and routines within the staff in the ER concerning a disease that has claimed numerous lives of unknown and famous citizens of the world.
I enclose two stories from Wikipedia as an example:
On September 11, 2003, Mr John Ritter (Wikipedia) was rehearsing for 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter when he fell ill. He began sweating profusely, vomiting and complained of having chest pains. He was taken across the street to the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. Physicians misdiagnosed Ritter and treated him for a heart attack but his condition worsened. Physicians then detected that Ritter had an aortic dissection. Ritter died during surgery to repair the dissection at 10:48 p.m.
Mr Jonathan Larson (Wikipedia) died unexpectedly the morning of Rent’s first preview performance Off Broadway. He suffered an aortic dissection, believed to have been caused by undiagnosed Marfan syndrome, in the early morning on January 25, 1996. New York State medical investigators concluded that if the aortic dissection had been properly diagnosed and treated, Larson would have lived.He had been suffering chest pains and also had nausea for several days prior to his death, but doctors at Cabrini Medical Center and St. Vincent’s Hospital could not find signs of a heart attack and so misdiagnosed it either as flu or stress.
Today it is 2014, and this year we celebrate 60 years since the first surgery was done on aortic dissection in Texas USA by cardiac surgeons Michael E. DeBakey, Denton Cooley and Oscar Creech. But the disease the surgery can cure is so uncommon that we talk about approximately 3 persons out of 100.000 that get it every year. And perhaps one or two of these will reach the surgeon in time.
In the city close to where I live in Sweden, Borås, we have about 100.000 inhabitants. That would mean that 3 persons in average get ill in Aortic Dissection every year. In average one of these three probably dies at home before he gets to hospital, the second either home or during treatment and the remaining third has a slim chance to make it through surgery and survive.
For me personally the doctors in the ER could not make a proper diagnosis until a cardiologist after 6 hours joined their team and ordered av CT-scan of the heart and aorta. First then a proper diagnosis was made. Then I had to be transported to a hospital with the knowledge to perform open heart surgery and repair of the aorta. Luckily for me the cardiologist was working that specific day in the ER of our local hospital, and a hospital that could perform emergency surgery was as close as 65 kilometers away.
This blog and many other blogs around the world, as well as webpages, books and social media are ways of the survivors of Aortic Dissection to try to increase the knowledge and interest for Aortic Dissection.
Of course doctors who never has confronted a patient with Aortic Dissection has problems in making a proper diagnosis. This is where the hospital and hospital management are responsible to put in routines in the ER to help the doctors and nurses to make a proper diagnosis.
Without proper routines to guide the staff to perform for instance a CT-scan quite early, many persons will continue to die in vain in the ER of hospitals. Having read the local newspaper since i got ill 20 months ago, i think that at least 2 persons has died in the ER of our local hospital due to that a proper diagnosis could not be made in time.
A way to improve the odds is to talk, write, blog, twitter about this disease that kills people every day in vain, partly just because it is so unknown.
The photo chosen today is showing a team including Dr DeBakey performing open heart surgery (found on this webpage)