Coronary Artery Dissection

 Coronary Artery DissectionA Different Heart Attack: Coronary Artery Dissection

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Despite the many advances made in the medical field, some problems continue to plague modern society and weigh down the healthcare system. Obesity and diabetes continue to contribute to a rising rate of heart disease, including heart attacks, which have the potential to be deadly within a matter of minutes. While these often result from a poor diet and lack of exercise, trauma can also lead to significant heart damage and, possibly, death.

How do Heart Attacks Develop?

Asking someone if they know an individual who has had a heart attack is like asking someone if they like food; heart disease is one of the most common medical problems in this country. Heart attacks develop when something blocks the flow of blood to the heart muscle itself. Blood flows to the heart muscle cells via the coronary arteries. A blockage in the coronary arteries will prevent blood, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the cells of the heart. This prevents them from pumping, leading to a heart attack. Most blockages develop from a cholesterol plaque that builds on the inside of the heart's blood vessels themselves. This typically builds over years of poor diet and exercise, leading to increased cholesterol and blood pressure in the vasculature and, eventually, leading to a heart attack.

Trauma Leading to Heart Damage

While heart attacks will develop in the natural course described above, there are other ways that someone could sustain damage to their heart and blood vessels. Recently, a team of medical professionals published the case report of a middle-aged women who sustained polytrauma in a high-speed auto accident. This woman was involved in a multi-car pileup and her chest impacted the steering wheel, leading to serious traumatic injuries. She was found to be in respiratory distress when emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene. On arrival at the hospital, it was obvious that she had sustained rib fractures; however, added oxygen was not alleviating her low oxygen saturation. An EKG was performed and showed a pattern that was similar to a heart attack so she was taken to the emergency department's cath lab. There, it was realized that some bone fractures in her ribs had led to a cardiac contusion and a traumatic dissection of one of the coronary arteries. This was straining the muscles of the heart in a manner similar to that of a heart attack, which was producing the pattern on the EKG. Without immediate repair, the muscle cells in her heart would die just as they would in a heart attack, so she was taken for immediate surgical repair.

Emergent Repair is Necessary

When an individual has developed a traumatic dissection of any of their coronary arteries, these tears must be repaired as quickly as possible because the heart muscle cells are being deprived of their blood, oxygen, and nutrients which are required to pump blood to the rest of the body. The woman was taken to the surgical suite so that a stent could be placed. This was a similar stent to the one that is used to open up a coronary artery that has been blocked by a heart attack. The stent covered the hole that had developed when the blood vessel was torn and allowed blood to resume flowing to the heart muscle without any leakage. She was monitored closely for several days in the cardiac intensive care unit to ensure that the stent would withstand the pressure of the blood flow inside of the vessel. After close observation, she was discharged and subsequently made a full recovery. While this story has a happy ending, not all coronary artery dissections end in the same fashion. Some dissections are not diagnosed quickly enough and people can suffer from the death of a significant number of cardiac muscle cells. If this happens, someone can wind up in heart failure.

Legal Counsel can Provide Valuable Assistance

When someone sustains a relatively rare injury such as a coronary artery dissection, there are many questions that are going to develop. People are going to wonder why this happened to them. Insurance companies could be confused by the claim because they haven't seen an injury such as this one. The financial issues surrounding the repair of this injury are likely to be scary. All of these issues can leave a family out in the open wondering what they are going to do next. To help sort through these numerous issues, speaking with an experienced injury lawyer can be a prudent move. Your attorney can help a family go through all of the choices that are available to them in detail, helping to make the decision in their best interest. When this injury is caused by a negligent motorist, a personal injury lawyer can assist by helping your recover compensation from the at fault party.

Personal Injury Lawyers in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. When a family has a loved one that has sustained a coronary artery rupture, they could be wondering what to do next. My office is available to provide free, friendly advice at (916)-921-6400 or via our toll-free line at (800) 404-5400.

I'm a member of the California group of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Many of my verdicts and settlements from past cases are saved here.

Much of the feedback put together by clients from earlier cases is saved on Avvo, Yelp, and Google.

Image Attribution: The diagram of the heart image at the top was put together by the NIH and thus is a part of the public domain.  

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