What John Ritter's Widow Wants You to Know About Aortic Dissection
7 minute read
The sudden death of Three’s Company star John Ritter devastated family, friends and fans alike. The beloved actor touched many lives, and his death was a shock and tragedy.
Out of every tragedy comes one blessing, though; in this case, the awareness of aortic dissection took flight. Fifteen years after his sudden passing, the case of his death remains center stage in the hopes of preventing future tragedies. This is due in no small part to the tireless advocacy of his wife, actress Amy Yasbeck.
Understanding Aortic Disease
Aortic disease causes 15,000 deaths each year in the United States and is known as the silent killer. The sudden death of Ritter is testament to the fact that many do not see it coming. The sad truth is that out lack of knowledge and awareness is the reason it is a silent killer.
If more had been known and understood about the common disease, Ritter’s death, along with thousands of others, could have been prevented.
Ritter’s wife, Amy Yasbeck, has made it her mission to spread awareness about aortic disease since her husband’s death. After learning that her husband had had heart troubles for some time, and that changes could have been made to protect his heart, she wanted to spread this knowledge to others.
Aortic disease is a group of conditions negatively affecting the aorta, which is a central blood vessel that works alongside your heart. The aorta is responsible for transporting blood from the heart to the rest of your body. Damage to the aorta happens gradually in the following way:
♦ An aortic aneurysm happens at a weakened spot along the aortic wall. This is marked by a widening of the aorta or ballooning that pushes it out and is a point at which turmeric may be helpful as a blood thinner.
♦ This typically leads to an aortic dissection, which is when the wall tears, allowing blood to flow out within the layers of the aorta.
♦ If the wall tears open completely, an aortic rupture has occurred.
♦ Aortic ruptures and dissections interfere with blood flow, and the nutrients and oxygen needed by your body is decreased.
In many cases, as in Ritter’s, the aortic dissection was misdiagnosed as a heart attack. It is this common problem that Ritter’s wife is hoping to correct.
A common treatment for heart attack patients is prescription blood thinners. These should never be given to a person with internal bleeding, such as one suffering with aortic dissection.
If the dissection had been properly identified, these medications would have never been given to Ritter, and this death could have been prevented. As tragic as Ritter’s death was, it serves as a perfect example as to why aortic dissections and heart disease are not to be confused.
The same organ may be involved, but the disease and treatment are very different.
What You Can Do
Knowledge, awareness, and recognition are the key to correctly diagnosing and treating aortic dissection. In response to the need for awareness, Ritter’s wife established a foundation under her husband’s name and published Ritter’s Rules to help people recognize aortic dissection.
By seeking immediate help for severe chest pains and increased awareness of misdiagnoses, aortic dissection can be identified and treated.
| Related: The 12 Most Antioxidant-Rich Foods for Heart Health |
In addition to spreading the word about the seriousness of aortic disease, you can work to improve your overall heart health. Boosting heart health does not mean you are clear of getting aortic disease, but it certainly reduces your risk and promotes longevity.
The best ways to improve heart health naturally include:
♦ Watching your weight and preventing obesity
♦ Lowering your blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes
♦ Lowering blood pressure and risk for hypertension
♦ Reducing stress, possibly through meditation and yoga
♦ Get regular exercise to promote cardiovascular health and keep extra weight off
♦ Eat a healthy, balanced diet full of heart-healthy foods
In addition to this, regular supplementation with turmeric can boost your overall heart health. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that works to control processes that can seriously damage your heart.
Curcumin works to scavenge the free radicals in your body that cause oxidative damage and aortic disease. It can also reduce inflammation that can damage your aorta, thus reducing your risk of aortic tears and ruptures.
Curcumin also supports the health of blood vessels and arteries by providing compounds that strengthen the lining of vessel walls. As the most important blood vessel in your body, your aorta can certainly benefit from the extra strength. Again, while this option can boost cardiovascular health, it should not be your only preventative measure.
The Bottom Line
Increased awareness of the difference between heart disease and aortic disease will be your best prevention method. Ritter’s story shows us how easy it is for a dangerous misdiagnosis to occur.
Known as a fun-loving goof, comedian, and all-around good guy, Ritter definitely left his mark on the world. Thanks to Ritter’s wife and many others, the word about aortic disease continues to circulate and educate. By arming ourselves with knowledge, we remove the element of surprise, and the silent killer doesn’t get to sneak up on us anymore.