Aortic Dissection Awareness Day Date in the current year: September 19, 2022

Aortic Dissection Awareness Day Aortic Dissection Awareness Day is observed annually on September 19. It was created to raise awareness of a relatively rare condition that is difficult to diagnose and can be fatal when diagnosed too late in an emergency situation.

Aortic dissection is a condition where the innermost layer of the aorta (the main and largest artery in the body) gets injured, which results in blood flowing between the layers of the aortic wall, forcing them apart. If not treated immediately, aortic dissection can quickly lead to death from aortic rupture or myocardial ischemia (insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle).

Aortic dissection is more common in males than females and usually occurs in individuals over the age of 60, although about one tenth of all cases occur before the age of 40. The main risk factors are smoking and a history of hypertension.

Other risk factors include previous heart surgery, heart disease, a number of diseases that affect blood vessel walls (Ehlers Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Turner syndrome), abnormal levels of lipids in the blood, arteritis (inflammation of artery walls, not to be confused with arthritis), pregnancy, and some others.

Aortic dissection usually has a sudden onset. Its common symptoms include severe chest or back pain, lightheartedness, sweating, and vomiting. Due to its main symptom being severe pain in the chest, aortic dissection can be confused with a heart attack and diagnosed too late.

A number of famous people died from aortic dissection: American actress, singer and producer Lucile Ball; American actor John Ritter; American composer, lyricist and playwright Jonathan Larson; American actor Richard Biggs; American singer Lux Interior; Canadian singer, songwriter and television host Alan Thicke; Japanese actress Hiromi Tsuru; Taiwanese singer and actor Alien Huag; Japanese manga artist Kentaro Miura; English musician Andy Fletcher (of Depeche Mode fame).

Aortic Dissection Awareness Day was initiated by Timo Söderlund, a man from Sweden who suffered an aortic dissection in 2012 at age 48. Luckily, he got the help he needed and survived. In 2013, Söderlund retired from his job as a manager at an international company and focused on raising global awareness of the illness that had changed his life. Among other things, he co-founded Aortic Dissection Awareness Day that would later be expanded into Aortic Disease Awareness Week powered by the Marfan Foundation.

Every September 19, physicians, researchers, patients and their families, healthcare and patient organizations from around the world come together to raise awareness of aortic dissection and the importance of its early diagnosis. Various educational events are held to help people learn more about aortic dissection and encourage those with a history of hypertension and/or smoking to seek medical help as soon as they experience any disturbing symptoms.

You can observe Aortic Dissection Awareness Day by education yourself about the condition and helping spread awareness of it any way you can. If you are an aortic dissection survivor or have cared for a person with aortic dissection, you can share your story online to encourage conversation. Who knows, maybe your story will help save someone’s life!

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International Observances

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Aortic Dissection Awareness Day, international observances, awareness days, aortic dissection, Timo Söderlund