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October 2007: Take Action Against Stroke: Closer to 55, Stroke Risk Doubles

01 Oct 2007

The Vascular Center at Weiss is offering low-cost three-point vascular screenings for those persons at risk for a stroke, aneurysm or peripheral vascular disease. The screening costs only $99 and takes 30 minutes.

Take Action Against Stroke: As Baby Boomers Move Closer to 55, Stroke Risk Doubles

As more and more baby boomers move closer to 55the age when their stroke risk begins to double with each successive decadeit is crucial that they understand both the warning signs and the importance of early screenings, especially if they are at risk. Risk factors include a history of smoking, high cholesterol levels, family history of aneurysms and high blood pressure.

Stroke – one of the top three health risks
Ask people to name the top two health risks in America today and most will correctly answer, “heart disease and cancer.” But ask them to name the third and they’re likely to draw a blank. Not enough Americans are aware that stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Don’t expect a warning
A stroke often strikes without warning. There are few, if any, symptoms (see Five Warning Signs of A Stroke). There are, however, three vascular screenings that can identify a life-threatening problem early enough for your doctor to take preventive measures.

Three times the detection
The following three screenings are recommended for the early detection of strokes and other vascular circulation problems. They are quick, painless, noninvasive and highly successful at fighting vascular blockages that could cause stroke.

1. Carotid artery disease (CAD)
The carotid arteries supply blood to your brain. As with your heart’s arteries, carotid arteries can become clogged with plaque. This condition is called atherosclerosisalso known as hardening of the arteries. When the clog becomes severe, blood is cut off to the brain in the same way it can be cut off to the heart and cause a heart attack. That’s why a stroke is often called a “brain attack.”

CAD, the leading cause of stroke, is involved in more than half of all cases. It can be detected with an ultrasound.

2. Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
PAD blocks circulation in the arteries of the extremities, usually the legs and feet. Like CAD, it’s often caused by atherosclerosis, which indicates an increased risk for stroke. It affects 20 percent of people over age 70.

PAD does generate certain symptoms, including pain in leg muscles during walking, pain in the toes or feet, ulcers or sores on the foot or toes that don’t heal and bluish or black discoloration of the toes. Many older adults think these pains are just “part of growing older.” They may, however, signal vascular problems.

PAD can also be diagnosed with an ultrasound or other noninvasive test.

3. Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
The abdominal aorta is the main blood vessel in your abdomen. It carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An aneurysm is a weakening or enlargement of the vessel. Without treatment, the aneurysm can grow until it bursts. This rupture causes massive bleeding, and only 20 percent of those who suffer a rupture survive.

AAAs are the 15th leading cause of death in the United States, but they are preventable. Men over age 65, especially those who smoke or have smoked, are the most frequent victims. Usually there are no symptoms with an AAA. But as with CAD, it can be found with an ultrasound screening. In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends a one-time AAA screening for all men 65 and older who have ever smoked.

For more information
If you have questions or concerns about your risk factors for stroke, please call the Vascular Center at Weiss for more information or to schedule an appointment to see one of Weiss’ board-certified vascular specialists, at (773) 564-5770.

Find out if you’re at risk for a stroke, aneurysm or peripheral vascular disease from with a three-point vascular screening at the Vascular Center at Weiss. The screening costs only $99 and takes 30 minutes. For more information on the next screening call (773) 564-5770.