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Your Healthy Family: What is aortic dissection and why you never want to have it

Posted at 8:10 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-13 22:11:59-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – As we come to the end of Heart Health Month, we’re talking about aortic dissection with Dr. Peter Walinsky, the senior medical director of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery at UCHealth Memorial.

Dr. Walinsky explains, “Aortic dissection is where the AORTA actually cracks.  There are three layers of the aorta and the blood will travel in between the layers.  The danger when that happens is that other vessels or other branch vessels can be sheared off, and so no blood gets to those branch vessels.”

Aortic tears kill about 2,000 Americans every year and strike with little warning.  Dr. Walinsky says,

“About 50 percent of patients who present with Type A aortic dissection, will not make it to the hospital.  Depending on which medical center the patients go to (who do make it there) it can be anywhere from a 10 to 30 percent operative mortality.”

Terry Douglass is one of the lucky ones who survived an aortic tear and nearly a year later, has almost no deficits.  Terry is a retired pastor in Colorado Springs who feels he is a living miracle.

Terry says, “Dr. Walinsky, he’s my hero.  I give God the credit but he had to use the skills and ability of Dr. Walinsky.  If anybody other than Jesus can walk on water, Dr Walinsky can walk on water.”

We’ll share Terry’s story in our next Your Healthy Family.