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2021 Annual Aortic Bridge Walk Goes the Extra Mile to Save Lives

2019 Aortic Bridge Walk

The next annual Aortic Bridge Walk will take place on September 18, 2021 in Brooklyn NY

Dr. Benjamin A. Youdelman

Dr. Benjamin A. Youdelman, Director, Thoracic Aortic Surgery at Maimonides Medical Center

September 18 event empowers patients and doctors to reduce aortic disease fatalities with a simple message: know and share your family medical history.

Aortic disease is treatable and detectable. The ability of patients and doctors to identify (it) as part of family history and as a cause of seemingly unrelated symptoms will absolutely save lives.”
— Dr. Benjamin A. Youdelman
BROOKLYN, NY, UNITED STATES, September 14, 2021 / -- Survivors, caregivers, patients, friends, and members of the medical community will walk across the Brooklyn Bridge this Saturday September 18, 2021, to commemorate another year of survival for those recovered from an aortic dissection and all those who carry a diagnosis of aortic disease. It’s time once again for the annual Aortic Bridge Walk, as organized by the Director of Aortic Surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, Dr. Ben Youdelman and the nonprofit organization, Aortic Bridge. In addition to celebrating life, the walkers aim to draw attention to the main message of Aortic Bridge and a collective of support groups like it: know your family medical history and empower your physicians to address it.

“Aortic Bridge is a resource for patients and families’ with a diagnosis of aortic disease.” says Dr. Youdelman. “In addition to offering support groups and education for our 145 active members, we are part of the collaborative effort that is THINK AORTA and take their messaging on as our primary goal. Awareness of family medical history has been shown to increase early detection, but there is much work to be done to educate the public and health care professionals about these issues.”

The work is well worth doing. Aortic disease can manifest as an enlargement, called and aneurysm, or a tear in the wall called a dissection. Both can lead to a rupture of the aorta and sudden death. Aortic dissection is the painful extreme and is the one most likely to send patients for emergency treatment. Unfortunately missed diagnosis can lead to delays of treatment with poor outcomes. As such, there is no question “thinking” aorta will save lives.

The THINK AORTA initiative started in doctor’s offices and the emergency department with education and tangible reminders in the form of posters and pamphlets. “While the medical community does need to change their approach to aortic disease, patients also need to be informed of their role.” Dr. Youdelman explains. “It’s about more than understanding the record of heart disease in one’s family. Knowing your family history of cancer, stroke, diabetes, heart disease and aortic disease will help your doctors to reduce your risks. We now know that there are many conditions in the body controlled by genes given to you by your parents that are directly linked to aortic disease. Patients need to learn and report their complete family medical history, and practitioners need to act on it.”

For his part, Dr. Youdelman walks the walk. He founded Aortic Bridge and joined the International THINK AORTA’s US board in 2019. While COVID slowed down their marketing efforts and outreach plans, he spent hundreds of hours pouring over CT scans at his own facility and is currently preparing what he found for publication which suggests that aortic aneurysms may be much more common than we previously thought. While it’s too soon to share the details, he says it’s enough to have him view this year’s Bridge Walk event as an opportunity to network and find ways to increase visibility for the cause and all the organizations related to it.

Dr Youdelman sums it up like this, “Aortic disease is treatable and detectable in the majority of cases. As of now it remains a top suspect in sudden, unexplained death, especially when a patient presents with an aneurysm and this unfortunate family history. Often the family is told it was a massive heart attack without definitive evidence. The ability of patients and doctors to identify aortic disease as part of family history and as a cause of seemingly unrelated symptoms will absolutely save lives. We have to mobilize literally and figuratively and get the word out.”

The walkers will meet at Cadman Plaza Park 11:30 AM at the corner of Tillery Street and Cadman Plaza East. Representatives from Aortic Hope and THINK AORTA will be on hand as well. More details and resources are available on the public Facebook event page.

Dr. Benjamin A. Youdelman
Aortic Bridge
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Dr. Ben Youdelman Interview with Aortic Hope