‘Simple rules’ may save your life

Published 9:51 am Monday, August 13, 2012

As I’ve mentioned before in this space, I like to read biographies. For some reason, they’re my favorite type of read. I don’t get much into fiction, though I sometimes read a novel that catches my attention.

Recently, I bought the book “With Love and Laughter, John Ritter” written by Ritter’s widow, Amy Yasbeck.

I grew up in the days of Three’s Company and though it wasn’t one of my favorite shows ever, I always got a kick out of the physical comedy Ritter did on the show. He was an amazing thespian and I appreciate his work if not the plot of the show.

He starred in many movies and on Broadway and was a well-respected member of the acting community. He decided to return to sitcoms just before he died and took a role as the dad on “Eight Simple Rules…for Dating my Teenage Daughter.”

The show was good and he and the rest of the cast made it entertaining and funny. I have many of the episodes on my DVR and we watch them at my house on a pretty regular basis.

Midway through the filming of a season of the show, Ritter was diagnosed with a heart attack and taken to a local hospital. What doctors didn’t know was that he hadn’t had a heart attack at all. Instead, what he suffered was an aortic dissection and it killed him on September 11, 2003.

Since that time Yasbeck has worked tirelessly to make people more aware of aortic aneurism and dissection. In fact, Ritter’s brother’s life was saved because they knew to look for the problem and found it. Doctors were able to operate and save him.

One of the other things that came from Ritter’s death was a set of rules to make people more aware of the disease. Ritter Rules are life-saving reminders to recognize, treat and prevent thoracic aortic dissection, a deadly tear in the large artery that carries blood away from the heart.

Ritter Rules combine knowledge with action. Know the urgency, symptoms, who is most at-risk and which imaging tests are required to diagnose this medical emergency. To see a full set of the rules, visit http://johnritterfoundation.org/ritter-rules/.

Here’s a little more about the JRF:

The John Ritter Foundation was created in October 2003, just weeks after John’s sudden death. Formed by his widow and their family for the purpose of receiving donations in honor of John’s life, the Foundation is focused on thoracic aortic disease education, support, and research.

The John Ritter Foundation is dedicated to improving the identification of individuals at risk for aortic dissections and the treatment of thoracic aortic disease through medical research. The Foundation also seeks to provide accurate information to the general public about the disease and its risk factors, along with support to individuals who have thoracic aortic disease or have lost a loved one to the disease.  Finally, the Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of thoracic aortic disease, including risk factors, proper medical and surgical management, and recognition of symptoms of an acute aortic dissection.

I encourage you to take the time to visit the John Ritter Foundation website and familiarize yourself with the information there. It certainly could save your life or the life of someone you know if you are well informed. If you feel inclined to do so, you can also donate to the Foundation to help with research and recognition.


Thadd White is Managing Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publication. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or by telephone at 332-7211.