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The killer inside- story about abdominal aortic aneurysm screening

(The following is a dramatization.)

Mr. Jackson is in his early sixties, on a drive in the country, and has no idea that he has only ten minutes left to live. A killer waits, unseen, silent, very close to him. When he bleeds to death, no one will even see the blood. The killer is an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Mr. Jackson is in good shape and good health. He took up smoking as a teenager, but quit for good when he was thirty. His blood pressure is within reasonable limits. The worst medical problem he has had in the past ten years was that infection of the aorta he went through in his fifties. Fortunately, it responded to antibiotics. There is nothing wrong with him — except for a weak spot in the wall of his lower aorta.

The aorta is the largest artery in the human body, and carries blood from the heart to the abdomen. The weak spot in the aorta of Mr. Jackson has swelled outward, like a balloon. This is an abdominal aortic aneurysm. It grew without causing symptoms until it was too large to be treated through medication.

Any minute now, the balloon will burst, causing massive internal bleeding. Mr. Jackson will suffer rapid heart rate,  intense pain, low blood pressure, dizziness, clamminess, nausea and vomiting. There may also be fainting and bruising along the sides. In order to survive, he would have to be rushed to a hospital, and there is not one close enough. Even if he were to make it to a hospital, doctors would have to recognize the symptoms immediately in order to begin treating him. Only half of those who suffer a burst anuerysm live longer than 30 days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2009, abdominal aortic aneurysms killed 10,597 people in the U.S., and were a contributing factor in the deaths of over 17,000 more. The people most likely to suffer from them are men who have high blood pressure or have suffered an aortic infection. Risk is particularly high for current or former smokers, even those who smoked only for brief periods.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings in Matthews, NC

The good news is that there are screenings available for this condition. An abdominal aortic aneurysm screening is quick, safe, painless and reliable, using ultrasound to detect the condition. You will probably only need to do it once in your life.

In January of 2007, a federal law went into effect that made free one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings available for any Medicare Part B enrollee who either:

  • Has a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm, or
  • Is a man between the ages 65 and 75 and has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in his lifetime.

If you are outside this age range or are not enrolled in Medicare Part B, but you would like an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening, they are a part of the subscription medical practice at the Conner Family Health Clinic in Matthews, NC. Dr. Conner is on call 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Make an appointment today.


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