Legs for Life 2002 – Page 2
AAA, the 17th leading cause of death in the U.S., is caused by a weakened area in the main vessel that supplies blood from the heart to the rest of the body. When blood flows through the aorta, the weakened area bulges like a balloon. If the balloon grows large enough, there is a danger that it will burst, resulting in death over 80 percent of the time. Those at highest risk for AAA are males over the age of 60 who have ever smoked and/or who have a history of hardening of the arteries. Also at risk are individuals with a family history of AAA.
AAA is often called a “silent killer” because there are usually no obvious symptoms of the disease. When symptoms are present, they may include severe abdominal pain (that may be constant or come and go); pain in the lower back that may radiate to the buttocks, groin or legs; or the feeling of a “heartbeat” or pulse in the abdomen. AAA is typically detected through the use of ultrasound, a painless exam that produces “pictures” of the aorta to detect the presence of AAA. Small AAAs (less than 5 centimeters, or about 2 inches) rarely rupture and often require no treatment other than “watchful waiting” under the guidance of a vascular disease specialist. Aneurysms greater than 5 centimeters in size typically require treatment to prevent rupture.
In 2001, AAA's pilot year in Legs For Life,® 11,000 people were screened for AAA. Nearly 1 in 4 people
was determined to be at risk. Ten Minutes to Better Health
During free Legs For Life screenings, patients are asked to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire to help determine their risk for PVD. A 10-minute PVD screening exam involves taking the person’s arm and ankle blood pressure to further assess the potential of disease. Sites conducting AAA screenings will use either a brief risk factors questionnaire alone, or the questionnaire in combination with ultrasound screening of individuals with AAA risk factors. Patients found to be at moderate or high risk for PVD and/or AAA are referred to their primary care physician for further evaluation. Resources for Consumers
Beginning in August, consumers can visit the Legs For Life Web site, www.legsforlife.org, or call the toll-free consumer information line, 877-357-2847, to locate screening sites and request free PVD and AAA brochures.
Legs For Life was founded by the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) in 1997, piloted in 1998, and launched nationally in 1999. Collaborating organizations include the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the American Radiological Nurses Association (ARNA), the Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention of the American Heart Association, the Society for Vascular Medicine and Biology (SVMB), and the Society for Vascular Nursing (SVN). Program funding is administered by the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology Research and Education Foundation (CIRREF).
Corporate Partners include Founding sponsor Abbott Laboratories, Founding and Diamond Sponsor Boston Scientific Corporation, Diamond sponsor Guidant Foundation, Platinum sponsors Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Pharmacia Corporation, and Silver sponsors Amersham Health, Angiodynamics, Inc.,