TV reporter shares the spotlight with her life-saving Inova physician team
Kim Jones, an NFL Network reporter, experienced a terrifying health event in November 2018 while reporting on the Washington Redskins at a press conference.
“My neck got hot on both sides. I walked outside and I tripped. Immediately I knew something was wrong,” recalls Jones.
She returned to the press conference, but soon after only remembers being in and out of consciousness and then being in an ambulance.
Jones was suffering from an aortic dissection, which is a tear in the wall of the artery carrying blood out of the heart. The EMT team initially thought it was a heart attack, but she was transferred to Inova Fairfax Hospital when it was discovered that her aorta was in trouble. (Aortic dissection is the same condition that killed actor John Ritter.)
In an interview on NBC’s morning news program TODAY on February 20, Jones was joined by Inova’s Liam P. Ryan, MD, who serves as Director of Inova’s Aortic Surgery Program.
Dr. Ryan stresses that the symptoms of heart attack and aortic dissection feel very similar to the person experiencing them, so “you should always call 911 if you are having distressing symptoms.”
Seeking emergency care is crucial for another reason: 40 percent of people who present with aortic dissection have no risk factors (such as smoking, high blood pressure, or family history).
Dr. Ryan also discussed the question of “benign” heart murmurs as a possible risk factor. A common congenital heart defect is an abnormal aortic valve, which affects 1 to 2 percent of the population. Often the “benign” murmurs are caused by the bicuspid valve, and this condition confers and eight to ten-fold increase in your risk of aortic dissection over your lifetime. For that reason, it is important to have a murmur (or any other symptom) checked out by a cardiologist.
During her two-week recovery at Inova Fairfax Hospital, Jones was effusive in her praise for her doctors and care teams.
“Everyone at this hospital has helped put me back together,” said Jones in an Instagram post from her hospital room, which is featured in the Today Show piece.
Jones also recalls a post-op visit from one of the other key surgeons who helped her, Alan M. Speir, MD.
Dr. Speir told Jones he was sorry about the visible scars she would carry as a result of her lifesaving treatment. But Jones was adamant that she doesn’t mind them.
“The scars are who I am now,” says Jones. “Don’t apologize, because you saved my life.”