An aortic dissection can kill you in two minutes; certainly there has to be a best time to suffer this life-threatening rupture of the heart’s great vessel.

Unfortunately, you don’t get to decide when an aortic aneurysm starts rupturing.

A study has linked specific time periods with increased survival rates following repair of aortic dissection, and with reduced hospital stays following the procedure.

A report in the online Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery states that when repair of an acute aortic dissection was performed during the period of a waning full moon, odds of death were reduced.

When the surgery was performed during a full moon, hospital stay was reduced. The study was done at Rhode Island Hospital and the paper published in 2013.

“We focused the study on patients having aortic dissection,” says Frank Sellke, MD, senior author, in the paper, “and found that the odds of dying following this procedure were greatly reduced during the waning full moon.”

Two groups of patients were studied:

1) Patients undergoing repair of an ascending aortic dissection, and

2) Those having an aortic dissection plus either coronary bypass surgery, aortic valve surgery or both.

When the repair of an aortic dissection was done during the full moon phase, patients had a substantially shorter hospital stay when compared to the other two moon phases.

This comes down to full moon cycle (10 days) vs. other moon phases (14 days).

What does the moon have to do with aortic dissection repair outcome?

Aortic dissection. Shutterstock/sciencepics

“Although this study was small, it showed clear advantage to those operated on during the full moon,” says Michael Fiocco, MD, Chief of Open Heart Surgery at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, one of the nation’s top 50 heart hospitals.

“Is the moon affecting the patient? The surgeon? 

No one really knows, but I don’t discount any of these reports.

“There have been for years doctors who swear that the ER is always busier during the full moon; all the crazies come out during the full moon, etc.

“Unfortunately, dissection of the ascending aorta has a mortality of 85-90% within the first 24 hours of diagnosis if left untreated, so you are stuck having surgery during whatever moon phase you are in at diagnosis.”

dr. fiocco

Dr. Fiocco specializes in treating artery disease, valvular disease and aortic aneurysm. His heart care expertise has earned him recognition by Baltimore Magazine as a Top Doctor in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016 and 2017.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Top image: ©Lorra Garrick