What is John Ritter Cause of Death? Twenty Years Later, His Wife Investigates his Misdiagnosed Cardiac Disease.

Even though John Ritter passed away more than 20 years ago, his widow is still committed to keeping his legacy alive. Actress and novelist Amy Yasbeck, the wife of John Ritter, has dedicated her life to bringing attention to the illness that murdered her husband. On Wednesday, she appeared on TODAY’s 3rd Hour to further this goal.

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John Ritter: Who was He?

Actor John Ritter was born in America. For his performance in Three’s Company, he received a Primetime Emmy in 1984. Ritter performed on Broadway and featured in over a hundred motion pictures and television shows.

Ben Hanscom in It (1990), Problem Child (1990), Problem Child 2 (1991), and Bad Santa (2003) are a few of his other well-known appearances.

In 2000–2003, he voiced the title character on the PBS children’s show Clifford the Big Red Dog, for which he was nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards. This was one of his final jobs. Just before he passed away, he returned to show business with the comedy 8 Practical Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

What Led to John Ritter’s Demise?

The official cause of Ritter’s death was an aortic dissection, which occurs when the aorta, the body’s primary artery, rips. Doctors initially believed the star was having a heart attack, though.

Following intense nausea, vomiting, and chest pains when filming “8 Simple Rules,” the actor visited a local hospital at 6 p.m. Ritter’s family filed a negligence lawsuit against a Burbank hospital after his passing. His wife, Amy Yasbeck, told TODAY in 2008 that she and her family had sued two doctors—one who had treated Ritter the night before he passed away and the other who had read the findings of a body scan he had undergone in 2001—for wrongful death.

The late actor’s widow revealed that she thought her husband would still be alive if the diagnosis had been accurate. She declared, “John didn’t have a chance.” “He never received that opportunity.” Test findings on the evening of Ritter’s death appeared to indicate that he was experiencing a heart attack, according to the defense counsel in the case. At 10:48 p.m. that evening, an aortic dissection was subsequently discovered, and Ritter passed away. Ritter passed away on September 11, 2003, in his 54th year. September 17, 2003, was just six days away from his 55th birthday.

What is Aortic Dissection?

The Cleveland Clinic defines an aortic dissection as “a tear in the inner layer of a weak spot in your aorta.” “Your aorta is the primary vein that delivers oxygenated and nutritious blood from your heart to the rest of your body.”

Aortic dissections result in the “separation of the inner and middle layers” when blood “surges through the tear,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. The aorta may burst, and regular blood flow may slow down or cease.

As per the Mayo Clinic, aortic dissection is a “life-threatening condition which demands immediate recognition,” with 40% of patients experiencing “immediate death from entire rupture and bleeding out from the aorta.”

The severity of the disease warrants seeking immediate care by anybody experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • intense, stabbing pain in your upper back or chest
  • breathing difficulties, fainting, or lightheadedness
  • low BP
  • hushed heartbeats
  • quick yet feeble pulse
  • profuse perspiration
  • Perplexity
  • loss of eyesight
  • On one side of the body, weakness or paralysis, as well as trouble speaking, are signs of a stroke.

High blood pressure, aneurysms (a weakening and ballooning of an artery), plaque accumulation in the arteries, age 60 and above, injury, family history, and certain medical diseases, including Marfan syndrome, are risk factors for aortic dissection. Usually, medication or surgery is used to treat aortic dissection.

What are the Ritter Rules?

Yasbek established the John Ritter Foundation in Ritter’s memory to spread awareness about aortic dissection.

She discussed “Ritter rules,” a list of fundamental concepts to assist people understand more about the illness, when she appeared on the 3rd Hour of TODAY on February 7, 2024, in honor of Heart Health Awareness Month. The guidelines are:

  1. The urgency. Treatment for aortic dissection is critical to improve prognosis.
  2. Anguish. The main sign of an aortic dissection is severe discomfort in the back, neck, or chest.
  3. Incorrect diagnosis. It is vital to consider aortic dissection as a diagnosis unless a heart attack or other diagnosis is verified since it might appear similar to a heart attack.
  4. Visualizing. An aortic dissection can only be detected by transesophageal echocardiography, MRI, and CT
  5. scan. EKGs and chest X-rays are insufficient to rule out the illness.
  6. Risk elements. The risk of dissection is increased by aortic aneurysm, family history, and certain genetic disorders.
  7. Activators. Aortic dissection can result from drug use, high blood pressure, trauma to the chest, and excessive physical strain on the body.
  8. Avoidance. Consult your healthcare professional about prevention if you have a higher risk of aortic dissection.

She emphasized that she must look after herself and speak out for herself. It may happen if you’re not careful about your health, Yasbek recounted when her spouse was treated for a heart attack rather than an aortic dissection.

“If you have chest pain and you go into an emergency room and you don’t know (if) you tend to it through genetics or family history, and the doctor doesn’t have it on his mind, (you can be mistreated),” she continued.

It’s not a block, and it’s not the heart. “It’s an aortic tear,” Yasbek clarified. According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms may appear elsewhere in the body as the aorta passes through the torso.

According to Yasbek, being aware of your family’s medical history may put you in control of your health. “It’s not uncommon, as some may claim if an aortic dissection runs in your family. During her dissection, she added that our CEO discovered she was the sixth in four generations. Yasbek advised speaking with a family member who is well-versed in your family’s medical history if unsure where to begin.