Non-Invasive Vascular Ultrasound Services

Archive for January, 2011

Joe Theismann,Football Legend; AAA story

Joe Theismann is a spokesperson for Find the AAAnwers Coalition. Their goal is to help improve the lives of those who have, and those that are at-risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm. Hear his story.

If you are at risk, call Futura Health Screening to schedule a screening. 425.398.7797 or toll free 866.486.4882

AORTIC ANEURYSM: Should You Be Screened?

Think of your aorta as the workhorse of your circulatory system. It’s your largest artery, carrying oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body.

The walls of your aorta are very elastic and can stretch and shrink back as needed to handle blood-flow demands.

“But some health conditions can weaken your aortic wall, which can cause it to bulge outward, forming an abdominal aortic aneurysm,” says Lorena De Marco Garcia, MD, board-certified surgeon on the medical staff at Memorial. “If the weakened walls of your aorta rupture, the aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding inside your body.”

Risk factors: Men are more likely than women to have an aortic aneurysm. Other risk factors include:

  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Having a family history of aortic aneurysms
  • Aging
  • Smoking
  • Having infections or swelling that damage the aorta or heart
  • Having high blood pressure

If you have any of these risk factors, ask your doctor if you should be screened for an aortic aneurysm.

All men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have ever smoked cigarettes should definitely be screened,” Dr. De Marco Garcia says. “Screening is a quick and painless procedure. We use an ultrasound to take a picture of your abdominal aorta, then measure it to determine if there is a bulge.”

Your options: Treatment for an aneurysm depends on its size and location. If the aneurysm is small and detected early, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting.

“If the aneurysm is large or is growing, you may need to undergo surgery to have the aneurysm removed,” Dr. De Marco Garcia says.

Medications to lower high cholesterol or blood pressure, a regular exercise program, a heart-healthy diet, and not smoking are other methods used to deal with an aneurysm.

The Memorial Institute for Heart and Vascular Health and Futura Health Screening are offering low-cost, painless screenings including carotid artery ultrasound to detect stroke-causing plaque, abdominal aortic ultrasound to detect an aneurysm, and ankle brachial index (ABI) to detect peripheral arterial disease in the legs. Screenings are $45 each or $125 for all three. Call (425) 398-7797 or (509) 249-5333 or toll free (866) 486-4882.

Published in Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital Third Age Alive Newsletter Winter 2011

Physicians Not Ordering Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening for Eligible Patients

Physicians don’t order abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening for most of qualified patients, a recent Mayo Clinic study concluded. Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a condition in which the aorta in the abdomen becomes enlarged (an aneurysm) and can rupture; a life-threatening situation. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a one-time AAA ultrasound screening in men aged 65 to 75 who have ever smoked. Patient records were reviewed over a 4-month period showing that providers ordered screening for only 12.9% of the qualified patients.

AAA screening is not often being ordered or even considered at your physician’s visit. Many physicians are concerned about managing hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and other health problems, they forget about AAA risk. Even with the fact that up to 80% of ruptured AAAs end in death, and that prior to rupture, there are no symptoms!

If you have AAA risk factors, ask your doctor for a screening. If you are a male that has smoked, or a man or a woman with a family history of AAA, Medicare will pay for a one-time AAA ultrasound screening in your first year of enrollment. If you have risk factors, but have missed the Medicare eligibility timeframe, contact a highly credentialed screening facility such as Futura Health Screening and schedule a low-cost AAA screening exam.

AAA Risk Factors:

  • Age 60 or older
  • Family history of AAA
  • Smoker, past or present

Full abstract here.

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