Chest Pain ER staff

Most days come and go with little significance, but for Vanessa Taylor, it only took one day to change her life forever.

October 19, 2009 was a seemingly ordinary day. With her mother battling cancer, most of Vanessa's time was spent visiting her in the hospital. That morning was no exception. Vanessa woke up and started getting ready to leave. Just as she was about to walk out the door, Vanessa was overcome with the feeling that something wasn't right.

With a shooting pain in her chest, Vanessa called an ambulance fearing that she was having a heart attack. After checking her vital signs and performing an EKG, the EMS reported normal results. Finding no cause for panic, Vanessa dismissed them and decided to go about the rest of her day as planned.

Vanessa spent the morning at her mother's bedside. She still didn't feel well, but as a self-proclaimed health fanatic for years, she didn't believe she had any reason to panic. She took some medicine and spent the afternoon drinking ginger ale. By 6 p.m. Vanessa decided to go home and rest.

Once at home, Vanessa quickly realized her plans to follow her usual remedy of soup, Tylenol, and sleep wouldn't be enough to ease her suffering. The pain was becoming unbearable, so Vanessa called an ambulance for the second time. Once again, they found nothing.

Determined to get an answer, Vanessa drove back to Palmetto Health Richland, but this time made her way to the emergency room and checked herself in. Once they heard her symptoms, the emergency room staff immediately rushed her to a room for testing. Vanessa went in and out of sleep as they performed an EKG and a CAT scan.

Vanessa finally had an accurate diagnosis. It was only after she came to Palmetto Health Heart Hospital that she finally knew what had been plaguing her for so long, an aortic dissection.

The aorta is a vital artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An aortic dissection is a tear that occurs in the inner lining of the aorta that affects the flow of blood. This condition is relatively uncommon and is usually fatal.

Because its symptoms often mimic a heart attack, aortic dissection is often not diagnosed or treated quickly. And for this life-threatening condition, time is of the essence. For every hour left untreated, a patient's chance of death increases by 2 percent.

Racing against time, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Jeffery Martin performed emergency surgery to repair Vanessa's artery. With her family's prayers and her remarkable medical care, Vanessa is now on her way to a full recovery.

A talented singer and flutist, Vanessa is grateful to be back to enjoying her life again. She credits her life to the extraordinary care and prompt diagnosis of the staff at Palmetto Health Heart Hospital. She says, "They saved my life. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them and I could never thank them enough."


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