Personal Stories: Judy Cardamone

I am so excited to find your website.

I so agree, knowledge is power and the best defense against this disease. Here is a brief summary of my story. Thirty-two years ago my mother died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm. I had never heard of such a thing and was led to believe this was just "one of those things." Fast forward about fifteen years and a paternal Aunt had an ascending aortic aneurysm that was ready to burst. Good news.

They found it, she survived the surgery. I thought it was coincidental that my Aunt had this. And of course since she was related to my father, I still thought what happened was an anomaly. Fast-forward to 2000. My sister calls me from PA to tell me the sad news that our cousin, a male on my father's side, age 51 and as far as we all knew quite healthy, suddenly collapsed and died.

I live in CO so I did not get to talk to his siblings much about what killed him. My sister seemed to think it was some kind of congenital heart valve problem. Fast forward to April, 2003. I get the most awful call of my life. My nephew called to tell me my sister had died of an aortic dissection. While I was home for her funeral, I asked my cousin's brother what the exact cause of his death was. He gave what the autopsy said: aortic dissection.

Six months after my sister's death I was beginning to emerge from the shock. I had seen my doctor and learned I have a "slightly dilated" aorta. Since then I decided I had to do something. I realize that when my mother died the tests available today were not available them. But my cousin and sister may have had a chance to have had life saving surgery if it were not for ignorance.

I learned that my cousin had been probably dissecting for a week but because no one ever connected the dots about our family, they were treating him for the flu and a pulled back muscle. My sister already had been informed she had a dilated aorta and told them that in the emergency room.

She lay there for 12 hours. They did an EKG and gave her an enema. She had arrived at the ER at 6:00 AM and at about 4 pm one doctor decided she did not look so good and ordered a CT scan. At 6:30 she still had not been scanned and she died mid-sentence with her husband there with her.

Ignorance I believe killed my sister.

I have found some great articles. Here is the link for one:

Also Robert Kaiser, Associate Editor of the Washington Post, did an article called The Tell-Tale Heart. He too suffered an aortic dissection.

Brian, your site is wonderful and a great start. I think the only way this disease will get the attention is needs is for people like us to get the news out. There needs to be more information for families.

I admire what you are doing and the fact that you survived this gives me hope. I worry not only for myself but for my sister's children, my cousin's children and all my first cousins. We are all at risk. We are a part of genetic research programs at both Cornell University and the University of

Texas. But, research is long and tedious and needs funding.

Anyway, I am a recently retired teacher, age 57, and I want to be able to make a difference in this. I want somehow to get the information out there to the general public.

Thanks for this site. You have inspired me.


Judy Cardamone

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