Keep an eye on ‘silent killers’ in the golden years

In-Home Companion Caregivers for Seniors in North San Diego County by A Servant's Heart Care Solutions (ARA) – Getting older is not easy, especially when it comes to making sure your body is healthy. Doctors probably have you watching your weight, your cholesterol and other health vitals in every effort to make sure you have a happy and full life.

But there are conditions that many times do not get mentioned during visits to the doctor because they often don’t exhibit any symptoms until it’s too late. One such “silent killer” is an abdominal aortic aneurysm (also known as “AAA”). Today, it’s estimated that more than one million people are living with an AAA, and don’t even know it.

An AAA is a blood-filled bulge or ballooning of the abdominal aorta, the artery that carries blood away from the heart to the lower part of the body. Over time, the bulge (known as an aneurysm) can become weak and the force of normal blood pressure can cause the aorta to rupture. This can lead to severe pain, massive internal bleeding or even sudden death.

While the exact causes of AAA are unknown, the risk factors that increase your chance of developing an AAA include:

* Age: Individuals over the age of 60 are most likely to develop this condition
* Gender: AAAs are between five to 10 times more common in men than in women
* Family history of AAA
* Smoking or history of smoking
* Clogged arteries
* High blood pressure
* High cholesterol

Fortunately, most AAA can be detected early through a simple ultrasound screening in which a health care professional glides a sensor over the stomach to view images of the aorta, similar to a pregnancy ultrasound. The ultrasound screening takes a few minutes and helps doctors ‘see’ inside to determine if an AAA is present. The exam also measures the size of an AAA, a key step in identifying the best treatment option – such as a watchful, waiting approach, open surgical repair or endovascular grafting.

The good news is that if detected prior to rupture, AAAs can be successfully treated 95 percent of the time. On the contrary, only 10 to 25 percent of people survive a ruptured AAA making it the third leading cause of sudden death in men over 60.

Due to his family history of AAA, professional football legend Joe Theismann understands the risks associated with the disease. “My father was lucky. He wouldn’t be here today if his aneurysm had not been detected through a routine exam,” says Theismann.

Having his father diagnosed with AAA was a wake-up call to Theismann to get himself screened by a simple, painless, 10-minute ultrasound. Today, he encourages everyone to learn more about AAA and ask their physicians if they qualify for a life-saving screening.

Screenings are held across the country in an attempt to detect AAAs before they rupture and to help save lives. You can find a screening location near you at, which also has more information on AAA risk factors and how you can “Take the Pledge” to get screened for AAA and to keep yourself, and your loved ones, healthy into your golden years.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Originally posted 2010-04-04 12:17:19.

Tim Colling
Tim Colling

Tim Colling is the founder and President of A Servant's Heart In-Home Care, which provided in-home caregiving services in San Diego County, and also of A Servant's Heart Geriatric Care Management, which provided
professional geriatric care management services and long term care placement services in San Diego County. Tim has more than 30 years of experience in management in a variety of industries. He held a Certified Care Manager credential from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers. Tim is also a Certified Public Accountant (retired), and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University at San Diego. In addition to writing blog posts here for the Servant’s Heart blog, Tim also is a regular contributor to and to as well as blogs of other eldercare services provider companies. Finally, Tim is also the president of A Servant's Heart Web Design and Marketing, which provides home care marketing as well as website design and online marketing for those who serve the elderly and their families.

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