What would it take to prevent all of the nearly 10,000 preventable deaths caused by aortic aneurysms each year?
We continue to ask that question, as we note our 18th year of advocacy, education and awareness programs, as well as free ultrasound screenings to find abdominal aortic aneurysms. Aortic aneurysm still ranks in the top 20 causes of death for all ages.
The rate of death continues to decline, and we like to think that awareness and screening programs are making a difference. But each death is more than a statistic. Each is a mother, father, sister or brother whose death could perhaps have been prevented, if the aneurysm had been discovered in time. (The Centers for Disease control reports aortic aneurysms were the primary cause of 9,863 deaths in 2014 and a contributing cause in more than 17,215 deaths in the United States in 2009. This data is a total of thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysms.)
Most AAAs are discovered accidentally, while another medical problem is being examined. Many, many people are saved through a medical intervention. We celebrate the lives of singer Gordon Lightfoot, comedian Rodney Dangerfield, U.S. Sen. Bob Dole and baseball players Bob Ueker and Joe DiMaggio whose lives were extended through this surgery. They didn’t have an easy path, but they gained years with their families. This medical and scientific advancement is becoming easier and more common.
And yet, there are many others whose lives ended suddenly because of this invisible silent killer. Most AAAs have no symptoms, and are only discovered when they rupture, causing intense pain, and, almost always, death.
Why do these preventable deaths still occur? Each one leaves behind a devastated and shocked family.
What can you do to continue to decrease the number of families affected by AAA?
First: find out the risk factors: Are you a smoker or former smoker? Have high blood pressure? High cholesterol? Family member who was affected by AAA?
Second: get screened yourself. Talk to your doctor. Many medical insurance programs will cover this simple and painless ultrasound test.
Third: spread the word. Make a donation so that others can get a free screening through AAAneurysm Outreach. Tell your friends and family members how easily they can prevent this from happening to them. Volunteer to share patient education materials in your community. Other ideas? Contact us today.
You can make a difference.