Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
More about Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
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By: Norman Clausen
WHAT IS ABDOMINAL AORTIC ANEURYSM (AAA)?
This life-threatening condition
is a weakness in the wall of the
aorta—the largest artery in the
body—and exists in an estimated
two million Americans. AAA rupture
usually occurs without any
prior symptoms. If undetected, a
ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm
has an 80% mortality rate.
WHO’S AT RISK?
“Males over the age of 65, individuals
who have smoked, who
have a history of hypertension,
and certainly anyone with a family
history of AA should strongly
consider getting a screening,” according
to Rudy’s physician, Dr.
Richard DeMasi, a vascular specialist
at Sentara Virginia Beach
General Hospital. “The test is simple,
quick, and painless, and it can
save thousands of lives each year.”
Ruptured AAs are one of
the leading causes of death
among the elderly in the United
15,000 Americans each year.
As a known cause of death in
the US, AA is about equal to
AIDS or several forms of cancer.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
If found before they rupture,
95% of AAs can be successfully
treated with a minimally
invasive procedure to implant
an abdominal aortic stent graft.
Nearly all AAs can be detected
through a simple screening process,
which doubles patient survival rates
over four years. If you or someone
in your family is over the age of 65,
make sure that they get screened.
Ultrasound examination of the aorta
is a highly accurate, painless, and
completely safe way to detect AAA.
The test typically costs approximately
$100, but Medicare now offers a
free, one-time, ultrasound screening
benefit for qualified seniors as
part of their Welcome to Medicare
WHO QUALIFIES UNDER MEDICARE?
Men who have smoked at least
100 cigarettes during their life, and
men and women with a family history
of AA qualify for the one-time
screening. The exam must be completed
within the first six months of
Medicare eligibility. The free exam
is only available to new patients entering
the Medicare system.