My name is Jim Horvath-Stange, today marks the 9th anniversary of my
dissection and emergency surgery. It seems like yesterday. I had a Type
I dissection on 8/25/2000 beginning just above the right coronary
orifice producing a 28cm tear. My symptoms were stabbing chest pain
radiating up both sides of my neck stopping at the ear canals of both
ears. The pain increased every time I took a deep breath.
With my wife (RN) and I (past O.R. Tech) for many years,
gave me some aspirin and I laid down in bed while waiting for the
paramedics to arrive. I tried to remain as calm as possible for I knew
something was wrong and I didn't want to make things worse. I was
transported to a local community hospital. When I arrived at the E.R., I
stated I wanted to be transported to University Hospital Case Medical
Center, Cleveland, OH. It's where I work and wanted to be at a major
medical center. I'm happy for my insistence for transportation for they
were diagnosing me with an anxiety attack. This all began at 6:30 a.m. I
was in surgery at 4:30 p.m. that evening. When they performed and Echo
Cardiogram and said my aortic root was 4.5cm, I knew I was headed for
surgery and what needed to be done. When I was an O.R. Tech, I assisted
in cardiac procedures. It's funny, thinking I might die never crossed my
mind. The thing I was thinking of was the kind of aortic valve I might
end up with, mechanical or pig. Funny how the mind works.
My ascending aorta was replace just above the coronary orifices with
a dacron graft and had my aortic valve repaired no replacement. I was
back to work almost two months to the day post-op. On June 19, 2001, I
had a second surgery involving the total replacement of my aortic arch
with another dacron graft. It's called an Elephant Trunk Procedure. A
portion of the old aneurysm had come loose and was acting as a valve
restricting the blood to my head. Two major surgeries in less than 10
We don't suffer from Marfans but we have a very strong family history
of aortic dissections on my mother's side. I lost my uncle at the age of
51, his daughter at 28, my mother at 67. I had my dissection at the age
of 45. I will be 55 at the end of this year.
I've been tested for the Lowes-Dietz Syndrome. The results were
inconclusive and Johns-Hopkins have a second blood sample to perform
further studies. That's been over three years now.
I'm physically limited in what I can do on a daily basis. My
cardiologist asks me if I'm still working each time I come for my check
up. Of course...I'm still raising teen-agers. My health is good. I log
approximately 7,000 mile a year on my motorcycle.
The issue I've been facing is that my coronary arteries are now
aneurysmal. The surgeon who follows me now (He did not perform my two
previous surgeries) says my coronaries have been large from the
beginning and they are not a concern and shouldn't pose a problem.
Current studies supports his point. Surgery should only be performed if
coronary artery disease is involved. That my be the case however,
they're still a concern to me.
I plan next year to celebrate my 10th year post-op by riding my
motorcycle from NE Ohio to San Diego, CA with my three sons.
Wish me luck and keep me in your prayers.
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