Jonathan’s Story

I am a radiologist. I found my 5.5cm ascending aortic aneurysm by accident. My doctor wanted to check my kidneys by ultrasound because of new onset hypertension at age 47. I did an MRI (for free) instead. I accidentally saw the aneurysm, confirmed it by CT angiography, and had bicuspid valve replacement and ascending aortic graft placement in October 2009. After this surgery, I experienced endocarditis and cardiac tamponade, which required additional surgery. 

The endocarditis recurred in 2016, necessitating replacement of the mechanical aortic valve and aortic graft and causing embolic strokes which included visual deficits, but I’m alive and blessed with a loving wife and children. 

I am convinced hypertension is a side effect of bicuspid aortic disease. Also, I did not have valve stenosis or regurgitation but still had a significant aneurysm. 

What I want to ask others is this: Did you have severe generalized anxiety or panic attacks in the years, or decades, before diagnosis, and did aneurysm excision cure it? For me, the answer is a resounding YES. Labile hypertension is associated with the bicuspid aortic disease/aortic coarctation spectrum of disease. 

If anxiety attacks are a chronic manifestation of aortic aneurysm with labile hypertension, I hope it gets more awareness. 

– Jonathan