When John Ritter died, the newspapers said he had a tear in his aorta. Is this common? How do you avoid it?
Fortunately this is not common. From the newspaper reports, it sounds like John Ritter died from an aortic dissection, which is when the largest artery in the body, the aorta, tears along its own vessel wall. Usually this happens to individuals that have high blood pressure, and the aorta wall becomes damaged over time. Then, the blood can start to separate the layers of the vessel wall. This can have catastrophic results. Patients often complain of chest pain and back pain, which is frequently described as “tearing” on the inside. However, it can easily be mistaken for other problems, such as a heart attack which is much more common. ER Stories had a recent example of his own case of an aortic dissection case too.
Treatment may involve surgery to repair the blood vessel, and agressive blood pressure control.
However, this is a diagnosis you do not want, because it can often result in death. To avoid this and other cardiovascular diseases, focus on good blood pressure control, heart healthy diet, exercise, and no smoking. Also, be very careful when you choose your parents, they will determine your risk for just about everything.