Celebrating the life of Brian Tinsley and his passion for helping others with Aortic Dissections.  

My name is Brian S. Tinsley and I am an ascending aortic dissection survivor. Here’s my story! The purpose of this website is to provide other aortic dissection patients (ascending/descending/both) with a single source of information that they can hopefully find useful. If you have a loved one that has experienced a dissection or need information, this is the place to get it. I can help you get the answers you are looking for. brevigKnow the Ritter Rules! These are critical to your loved ones success. My hero and surgeon, Dr. James Brevig.

You are at the right place to find help! When I got out of the hospital, I could find zero positive information about living with this prognoses. Here you will find over 500+ personal stories of folks who have had aortic dissection as well as a place to get help. If you have an aortic dissection story, please submit it here.  I have hooked up with many top doctors and can get you information to help! Here’s a great,www.aortarepair.com for the best overall description of Aortic Diseases and explanations.

This site covers all topics: Dissecting Aortic Aneurysm, Aortic Dissection Symptom, Aortic Dissection Videos, Aortic Dissection and Complications, Ascending Aortic Dissection,Type A Aortic Dissections,Type B Aortic Aneurysm, Dissected Aorta, Causes of Chest Pain, Aortic Rupture, John Ritter. Here’s a great overview of the aorta, look here first.

Medical Ignorance Contributes to Toll From Aortic Illness. Please read this WSJ article. Many Doctors Don’t Realize Aneurysms Are Treatable; It’s up to us to help spread the word!!!

“My goal was to create a positive website that would encourage others to share their stories and hopefully allow everyone to learn from them.”

However, the best defense is to have the knowledge and information to cope with this and to be able to help others as well. That’s my goal! I want to help people understand more about this growing problem and what can be done to help. I will try my best to keep this site up to date and answer any questions you might have. I am merely a layman and not a doctor.

I have made connections with some great folks very familiar with this issue and feel great about spreading the knowledge.Whether you have had a Type A Ascending aortic dissection or a Type B Descending aortic dissection, this site is here to help be a resource. Good example of a Type B Aortic Dissection.

The most reliable way to confirm an acute aortic dissection is to have a radiologist or cardiologist examine a CT scan of the patient’s chest. Patients with symptoms of aortic dissection will be assessed in the emergency room by the ED physicians and will be immediately sent for a CT scan. At the same time, a surgical team including a cardio-thoracic surgeon will be called to the hospital. The surgical team will assess the best medical or surgical method to treat the patient and send the patient to the appropriate physician for treatment.

Did you know this? Type B Dissection of the Aorta accounts for 40% of all Aortic Dissection and its occurrence is more frequent in the mornings between 6 to 10 am and in the winter season.

I have teamed up with the some of the top surgeons from around the world who help me on this site with questions, CT Scan reviews and 2nd/3rd opinions. If you are in a situation that doesn’t feel right… by all means, and if at all possible, get that 2nd and 3rd opinion-I will be glad to go to bat for you and help bring some expertise to assist.

Here’s a great FAQ about if you should have surgery. This is done by Michael Borger, MD, PhD at Columbia University Aortic Surgery Program.

The Tyler Kahle Story

I have just discovered this video done on Tyler Kahle (only 19) by Methodist Hospital. It’s a video done to increase the awareness of this deadly disease and how important the ER visit is in the outcome of the patient-regardless of the age of the victim. It’s some thing that everyone should watch immediately.

Family History of AD

Family History of AD=genetic genes are passed on to family members! Or… if you can’t get them to do a CT Test, ask them what were the results of a D-Dimer test? D-dimer testing is helpful for emergency physicians in detection of patients with suspected acute aortic dissections. If you get the ER Room with chest pain – DO NOT LEAVE with out proof (via CT) that an Aortic Dissection (ascending/thoracic) is not the cause. You need to demand the proof! You MUST be persistent! Don’t leave UNTIL you have the CT images reviewed! Going home=a certain and very likely early preventable death-regardless of the patients age!

Diane Sixsmith, M.D., chair, Emergency Medicine Department, New York Hospital, Queens, advises people who are prone to aortic dissection to take extra precautions. “Early diagnosis and treatment are key to survival for those who are predisposed to aortic dissection,” she says. “If you are in a high-risk group, and especially if you have Marfan syndrome, don’t wait for a tragedy to find you. Patients who have regular echocardiograms and who take medicine to slow the heart rate and the pulse do very well, and preventive surgery (before the aorta dissects) has a greater than 98 percent success rate.”

Things YOU need to know

Other symptoms of an aortic dissection include breathlessness, sweating, dizziness or confusion, and trouble speaking. One of the best ways to diagnose an aortic tear is to take the pulse in different limbs. A different or delayed pulse in different limbs is a major indicator of an aortic dissection.

Aortic dissection is the most common catastrophe of the aorta, 2-3 times more common than rupture of the abdominal aorta. When left untreated, about 33% of patients die within the first 24 hours, and 50% die within 48 hours. The 2-week mortality rate approaches 75% in patients with undiagnosed ascending aortic dissection. Normal Anatomy The aorta can be divided into several sections: Aortic root: begins at the aortic annulus and incorporates the aortic sinuses, aortic valve, and ends at the sinotubual junction. Ascending aorta: starts at the sinotubual junction and ends at the takeoff of the inominate artery (brachiocephalic artery). Aortic arch: continues after the inominate artery and ends at the subclavian artery. This portion of the aorta curves (arch) from the anterior portion of the chest cavity towards the back. Descending aorta: begins after the takeoff of the subclavian artery and courses down the thorax through the diaphragm. Abdominal aorta: the thoracic (descending) aorta becomes the abdominal aorta once it passes through the diaphragm. The abdominal aorta ends in the pelvis when it divides into the iliac arteries.


For a great “overview” and “pictures” read this now! Click Here! and Click Here! Here’s another great article! Those three sites should set you on your way very quickly to learning about what an Aortic Dissection really is and what causes them.  Here’s some of our experts. There is also some different examples (pictures) on Google. Click here! I like this one as well! What’s the future of Aortic Repairs? Here’s one technique. Finally, one of my favorites for good all around information about the aorta.


Aortic dissection is a rare, but potentially fatal, condition in which blood passes through the inner lining and between the layers of the aorta. The dissecting aorta usually does not burst, but has an abnormal second channel within it.


A defect in the inner lining of the aorta allows an opening or tear to develop. The aorta is the main artery of the body and is an area of high blood pressure. When a defect develops, blood pressure can force the tear to open and allow blood to pass through. Since the blood is under pressure, it eventually splits (dissecting) the middle layer of the blood vessel, creating a new channel for blood. The length of the channel grows over time and can result in the closing off of connection points to other arteries. This can lead to heart attack, strokes, abdominal pain, and nerve damage. Blood may leak from the dissection and collect in the chest an around the heart. A second mechanism leading to aortic dissection is medial hemorrhage. A medial hemorrhage occurs in the middle layer of the blood vessel and spills through the inner lining of the aorta wall. This opening then allows blood from the aorta to enter the vessel wall and begin a dissection. Approximately 2,000 cases of aortic dissection occur yearly in the United States.

Causes and Symptoms

Aortic dissection is caused by a deterioration of the inner lining of the aorta. There are a number of conditions that predispose a person to develop defects of the inner lining, including high blood pressure, Marfan’s Syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, connective tissue diseases, and defects of heart development which begin during fetal development. A dissection can also occur accidentally following insertion of a catheter, trauma, or surgery. The main symptom is sudden, intense pain. The pain can be so intense as to immobilize the patient and cause him to fall to the ground. The pain is frequently felt in both the chest and in the back, between the shoulder blades. The extent of the pain is proportional to the length of the dissection.


The pain experienced by the patient is the first symptom of aortic dissection and is unique.

The pain is usually described by the patient as “tearing, ripping, or stabbing.” This is in contrast to the pain associated with heart attacks.

The patient frequently has a reduced or absent pulse in the extremities. A murmur may be heard if the dissection is close to the heart. An enlarged aorta will usually appear in the chest x rays and ultrasound exams of most patients. The use of a blood dye in angiograms and/or CT scans (computed tomography scans) will aid in diagnosing and visualizing the dissection.


Because of the potentially fatal nature of aortic dissection, patients are treated immediately. Drugs are administered to reduce the blood pressure and heart rate. If the dissection is small, drug therapy alone may be used. In other cases, surgery is performed. In surgery, damaged sections of the aorta are removed and a synthetic graft is often used to reconstruct the damaged vessel.


Depending on the nature and extent of the dissection, death can occur within a few hours of the start of a dissection. Approximately 75% of untreated people die within two weeks of the start of a dissection. Of those who are treated, 40% survive more than 10 years. Patients are usually given long term treatment with drugs to reduce their blood pressure, even if they have had surgery. Types of Aortic Dissections

The DeBakey System, named after surgeon and aortic dissection sufferer Michael E. DeBakey, is an anatomical description of the aortic dissection. It categorizes the dissection based on where the original intimal tear is located and the extent of the dissection (localized to either the ascending aorta or descending aorta, or involves both the ascending and descending aorta.

  • Type I – Originates in ascending aorta, propagates at least to the aortic arch and often beyond it distally.
  • Type II – Originates in and is confined to the ascending aorta.
  • Type III – Originates in descending aorta, rarely extends proximally.

Stanford Classification System

Divided into 2 groups; A and B depending on whether the ascending aorta is involved.

  • A = Type I and II DeBakey
  • B = Type III DeBakey


I hope that this website will help educate you about what an aortic dissection really is and how to get help and when you are in the ER room, to know what tests to demand if you feel that you are not getting adequate care. It’s up to you to know the signs and be the best prepared you can. It’s my goal to do what ever I can to help you succeed!

I would also like to dedicate this site to the loving family of Tyler Kahle and for all the wonderful things that their family is doing to help save other lives. They are truly an amazing family with a drive and determination to make an impact! Hats off to them!

If you have any recommendations for improvements or links to add, just email me them and I will add them. Finally, if you need to speak with someone or have medical questions, just let me know, we can get you the help you need. I will try my best!

Kindest Regards,

Brian S. Tinsley


*I am in the Pacific Standard Time Zone

**Please help support the site if you can and help me spread the word.