U-M bicuspid aortic valve patient faces challenges head-on

Thelma Thompson proves to be "one tough woman"

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Photograph by Leisa Thompson

 

Thelma Thompson was never one to shy away from exercise. At 67, she was accustomed to playing 36 holes of golf in a single day. When she noticed she was tiring more easily, Thelma chalked it up to “age.” But she realized her diagnosis was much more serious than she suspected when she suffered a heart attack in 2013. Thelma was shocked to discover her coronary artery was 95 percent blocked. At the same time, she was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve and an aneurysm of her thoracic ascending aorta.

Thelma underwent surgery for her blocked artery at her local hospital, and was then referred to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center in January 2015 for treatment of her bicuspid valve and aortic aneurysm. Continue reading

Two-time aortic aneurysm survivor shares her experience

One woman's story of hope

Lori Eslick is a two-time aortic aneurysm survivor. Her heart issues began as a newborn when she was diagnosed with a heart murmur and bicuspid aortic valve disease (a congenital abnormality).

Years later, at age 49, a routine EKG led to the diagnosis of an ascending aortic aneurysm.

An ascending aortic aneurysm (also known as a thoracic aortic aneurysm) occurs in the part of the aorta in the chest, situated above the diaphragm, a muscle that helps you breathe. Approximately 25 percent of aortic aneurysms are thoracic, with the rest occurring in the abdomen. Thoracic aortic aneurysms can rupture and lead to severe internal bleeding, resulting in death. They don’t always cause symptoms, even when they’re large. Only half of all people who have thoracic aortic aneurysms notice any symptoms. Continue reading

Do you know your risk for an aortic aneurysm?

There are often no symptoms associated with an aortic aneurysm, so it's important to know your health history

Abdominal aortic aneurysmAn aortic aneurysm generally doesn’t cause symptoms until a patient has a significant problem. Most aortic aneurysms are detected by chance — for example, through an imaging test that was ordered to rule out other health concerns.

This is why it’s so important to know your health history. Does someone in your family have an aneurysm? Has a family member died from an aneurysm or experienced a catastrophic event due to an aneurysm? If so, these are indications that you and members of your family should be tested. The key is to know your risk(s) for an aortic aneurysm to reduce your chances of stroke or sudden death. Continue reading