Aortic Dissection: a Life-Threatening Cardiac Disorder
According to the most recent annual statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aortic aneurysms were the primary cause of almost 10,000 deaths in the United States. Aortic aneurysms, which can lead to a fatal dissection, are the nation’s 13th leading cause of death.
Aortic dissection is an often fatal disorder in which the lining of the aortic wall tears and separates from the middle layer of the aortic wall.
When an aorta ruptures, blood can push through and separate (dissect) the middle layer of the wall from the outer layer. As a result, a new, false channel forms, and causes a dangerous emergency situation.
Symptoms of aortic dissection may mimic those of other diseases, often leading to delays in diagnosis. Over time, the amount of oxygen and nutrients available for the organs of the body is diminished. Without treatment, about 80 percent of people who have an aortic dissection will die within two weeks.
Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Medical Malpractice and Ohio Pharmaceutical Injury attorney representing plaintiffs nationwide in a variety of catastrophic injury cases.
Almost everyone who has an aortic dissection experiences a sudden, and severe pain, often described as a tearing or ripping sensation. Some people may faint as a result of the stabbing or radiating pain. Most commonly, the pain is felt across the chest, but can also be felt in the back between the shoulder blades. The pain frequently travels along the path of the dissection as it advances along the aorta. As a result, people may have abdominal pain or lower back pain.
The aorta travels from above the heart to below the navel, and severe pain may occur at any place along this area. Other symptoms may include the following:
• A sudden increase or decrease in blood pressure
• Shortness of breath
• Jaw pain
• Sudden difficulty speaking
• Loss of vision
• Weakness or paralysis of one side of the body
• Weak pulse in one arm
Most aortic dissections occur because high blood pressure causes the artery’s wall to deteriorate. More than two thirds of people who have an aortic dissection have high blood pressure. Other potential causes for the disorder include the following:
• Hereditary connective tissue disorders
• Reactions to medications such as fluoroquinolones (Cipro, Avelox, Levaquin, Noroxin)
• Birth defects of the heart and blood vessels
• Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Bicuspid aortic valve
• Weight lifting
• Trauma to the aorta
• Inflammatory diseases
Fluoroquinolones have been linked to higher than average rates of Aortic Dissection and other cardiac events in a varied and growing body of medical literature. Studies, by the American Medical Association and numerous medical journals, show a link between the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics create a substantial risk for aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections. The 2015 studies identify an association between these drugs and potentially fatal cardiac injuries. Popular fluoroquinolones include:
• Almost 75 percent of aortic dissections occur in people aged 40 to 70.
• Aortic dissections are three times more common among men, accounting for about 65 percent of the afflicted patients.
• The disorder is more common among African-Americans and less common among Asians.
Early diagnosis and treatment of this illness is critical for survival. Doctors usually do x-rays or computed tomography to help confirm a diagnosis. Chest x-rays show a widened aorta in 90 percent of people with symptoms. However, this finding may be due to other disorders.
There are two main treatment options for aortic dissections and aneurysms: surgery and medications. Patients usually take drugs to lower blood pressure and reduce risks of rupture, and doctors do surgery to repair the tear.
If you or a loved one has suffered a medication-related aortic dissection, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.