Personal Stories: Jim Horvath-Stange


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 months.

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.

Jim Horvath-Stange


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