Name: Marc Janis
Age at time of Dissection: 65
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 19 December 2012
Tell Us Your Story:

Over the years I have tried to maintain a level of fitness which would benefit my health and also set an example for the athletes I coached on the high school level. At age 65 I was still training for half-marathons and worked out regularly in the gym. A routine checkup with my heart doctor in Sept. led to an abdominal ultrasound since my birth father hadan abdominal aneurysm It was discovered that I had a 3.5 cm. aneurysm in my left side iliac artery. I was immediately referred to a vascular surgeon who placed me on beta-blockers and ordered a CT-scan. It was then discovered after the scan that I had an enlarged iliac artery on the right side. The surgeon recommended surgery within three months. He also suggested that due to my level of conditioning he was confident that I could handle the open surgery which would allow him to remove both aneurysms and graft a dacron tube/artery in place.

When I asked if I could still workout prior to surgery he said yes but cautioned me to keep my heart rate to 120 and below. I worked out everyday up to the surgery on the elliptical and occasionally on the treadmill. I did not do any lifting. Needless to say I was able to maintain my conditioning which allowed me to bounce back from the surgery in record time. What was suppose to be a 7-10 stay in the hospital turned out to be 5.

The surgery was a success and the doctor was extremely pleased with the outcome. After several days of walking at home I was back to the gym and the treadmill/elliptical in 9 days. As of this writing I still have until Feb. 13 before I can start lifting an running.

An interesting side note when I returned to the surgeon for my staple removal and checkup was that after he had me open and was removing the aneurysm on the right side was the discovery of an ulcerated area that was paper thin and would have been the spot that would have ruptured. He also removed my appendix so that another surgeon down the line would not interfere with the graft.

Several things standout in my mind concerning this experience.

1. Being adopted, I was able to find out some medical history about my birth parents.

2. Having that information prompted my heart doctor to order an ultrasound.

3. A highly skilled vascular surgeon who was confident in his ability.

4. All those years of working out paid off in allowing me to have the open surgery and recover at a much faster rate.

Finally I hope my story will reinforce the idea that fitness counts when faced with serious medical problems.