Physicians and nurses from Vascular Interventional Radiology, Aortic Disease Management, and the Wound Center in the UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care successfully provided free screenings for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)on Saturday, September 21 as part of the Legs for Life® campaign, a national screening program designed to raise awareness of the dangers of vascular disease.
PAD affects about 10 million people in the United States, but many people do not know they have the disease. PAD is a sign of arteriosclerosis (clogged blood vessels) in the leg. Arteriosclerosis is the primary cause of heart attack, the number one cause of death in the United States.
AAA affects as many as five to seven percent of people over the age of 60 and is caused by a weakened area in the aorta, 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, and if it grows large enough, there is a danger that it will burst. Accounting for more than 15,000 deaths each year, abdominal aortic aneurysms are often called a “silent killer,” as patients often have no symptoms until their aneurysm bursts. Fifty percent of all patients with a ruptured aneurysm die from the condition, which is why screening is crucial for people at highest risk.
Kyung Kim, MD, Vascular Interventional Radiology (on left) spearheaded the effort to host the Legs for Life event. Dr. Kim and Robert Dixon, MD (on right) were two of the physicians who provided patient screenings.
Jenni Hughes, RN, Program Manager of Aortic Disease Management (on left), and Krista Maddock, RN, Vascular Interventional Radiology (on right), were instrumental in coordinating and organizing the Legs for Life screening.
Megan Leet and Quincy McClain assisted the patients during check-in for the Legs for Life screening. 54 patients were screened during the four-hour event.
Mary Wilson from Louisburg, NC has a family history of aneurysms and PAD, so when she heard about the screening at Rex Family Practice, the UNCPN practice where she works, she immediately signed up. "Rex offers a discounted screening for their employees, but finding a free screening at UNC made the drive here absolutely worth it."
Roland Intrator of Chapel Hill, NC was also happy to find a free screening. "Jessica (Cote in VIR) called me back quickly and set up my appointment. It was very easy to do."
Ursula Wuerth is from Pennsylvania, but she and her husband are staying with their daughter in Chapel Hill for the next several months. "I have a family history of heart problems and stroke," says Mrs. Wuerth. "When we saw the news about the free screening, we couldn't believe it was free! We are so glad you are offering this."