NOTeD: JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Suffered an Aortic Dissection

Tom Rifai, MD, FACP

IN TODAY’S MEDICAL NEWS: JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Suffered an Aortic Dissection

In the midst of Wall Street’s coronavirus concerns, JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon suffered an aortic dissection and underwent emergency heart surgery March 5th. Prayers for Mr. Dimon and his family. I do not know the details I would like to about Mr. Dimon’s medical history (which is understandably kept fairly secret by JPM), other than what has been published: he suffered a throat cancer diagnosis in 2014, and his current aortic dissection.

What is Aortic Dissection?

Aortic dissection is a serious acute condition that occurs when a tear begins in the inner wall of the the aorta. The aorta is the major blood vessel that branches out from the heart and feeds oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body through the circulatory system. It is the largest blood vessel in the human body.

While there are different forms of aortic dissection, essentially one occurs when a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta. Blood from inside the aorta then bleeds through the tear into the area between the layers separating (i.e., “dissecting”) the layers of the aorta, essentially tearing them apart, causing symptoms including severe, sharp chest pain and/or painful feeling of internal ripping or tearing from the front, chest or abdominal area, towards the backbone area.

Aortic dissection causes immediate death in up to 40% of cases. If the bleeding is stopped in time, and the wall repaired through emergency heart surgery, risk of death decreases. Therefore, it is vital to get emergency medical attention immediately if the aforementioned symptoms occur.

Besides Genetics, What Contributes to Aortic Dissection?

Some of the most significant contributors to acute aortic dissection are lifestyle driven: hypertension and cholesterol buildup in the arteries called atherosclerosis.

Mr. Dimon’s case is indeed a critical learning (or reminder) moment for us that therapeutic lifestyle, particularly including a minimally-processed, plant-predominant eating pattern, substantially reduces the major potential contributors to aortic dissection: hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Both drive most arterial disease, including atherosclerosis – which in addition to its contribution to aortic dissection, is the most common driver of our biggest killer by far: cardiovascular disease (CVD).

And CVD is only in part represented by approximately 600,000 heart attack and 130,000 stroke deaths per year, 4 out of 5 of which are arguably well preventable. We can add peripheral vascular disease and dementia, among other CVDs, to the list of “dramatically lifestyle preventable.”

What is the Takeaway, Even in the Midst of Our Overwhelming Attention on Coronavirus?

While JPM is reeling in the economics of the current coronavirus ramifications, Jamie Dimon did indeed get “hit by a bigger bus” (that is CVD, specifically aortic dissection). JPM was wise to have a “hit by bus plan” that immediately put two leaders into place while Mr. Dimon (hopefully) recovers.

Our takeaway is: we should all also have a “ball plan.” The ball being one far too few are keeping our eye on: the power of lifestyle as medicine. Please keep your eye on the ball ? ❤️.

Tom Rifai MD, FACP
CEO, Reality Meets Science®