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Please take this advice
Old 04-08-2011, 11:07 AM   #1
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Please take this advice

Got a phone call from a friend early this morning telling me that his wife was in the hospital and that they didn't expect her to live. Quite the shock. He was asking for prayers and just wanted to talk to someone.
She had a stroke this morning following discovery of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). One reason he called me was that he knew I had an AAA a few years ago. The reason I'm posting this is to plead with everyone to get yourself checked for an AAA. This is very easily done as they have mobile units going all over the country doing "screenings" in your area. You will see ads in the paper promoting this scan along with others for you to choose from.

Four years ago I went with DW who wanted to get checked for bone density. A service called "Lifeline Screening" was in the area and she saw an ad for this service and talked me into going with her. During my screening they discovered a bulge in my aorta. Gave me a copy of the film and told me to see my doctor ASAP. To make a long story short, I had to go for further testing like CT scans as ordered by a vascular surgeon. In my case, they were able to so an endovascular stent graft. Depends a lot on the location of the aneurysm. Otherwise, full blown surgery is required and this is a tough surgery. Worse case senerio is the aneurysm ruptures and you bleed to death before you can get to the hospital. For the most part there are no symptoms. You never pay attention to this sort of thing until it happens to someone you know or you get lucky like I did. Now I know of five people who had this AAA, one died (John Ritter, the actor), another is about to die and three have had the stent graft.

Please get checked for this. As I remember, Lifeline Screening has a web site that will tell you where they are providing the service in your area (there are others as well). Also, you can Google "Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm" which will further describe the condition, the fixes and the life long checkups required.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:11 AM   #2
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Lifeline is coming to a church near me in a couple weeks. The cost is minimal and well worth it...........
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:06 PM   #3
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I got a flyer in the mail earlier this week that Lifeline was coming to my area soon, also.
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:54 PM   #4
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Lifeline doesn't get to Hawaii. I found this from Consumer Reports:
Quote:
  • For men 65 and older who have smoked 100 cigarettes or more in their lifetimes, we gave it our second highest Rating (). That means the benefits likely outweigh the risks.
  • For men 65 and older who have smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes, we gave it our intermediate Rating (). That means it's uncertain whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • For men 65 and younger and all women, we gave it our lowest Rating (). That means it's very unlikely that the benefits outweigh the risks.
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Old 04-08-2011, 01:53 PM   #5
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Consumer Reports got it right (as usual in matters medical).

One suggestison: I probably would not get it through Lifeline but rather through my primary doc's usual resources. I know cost might be an issue forcing the decision, but if you go with Lifeline or similar, consider restricting it to the abdominal ultrasound and pass on the "bundle" usually including carotids, peripheral vascular (legs), EKG etc. Those have no screening value for those at average risk and should be used more selectively.
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Old 04-08-2011, 02:05 PM   #6
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We marked the third anniversary a week ago of the passing of one of my dearest friends to an aortic aneurysm.
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Old 04-08-2011, 02:08 PM   #7
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Johnnie,
Thank you so much for posting this. I will definitely follow up on this - for me and DH.
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Old 04-08-2011, 03:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
Consumer Reports got it right (as usual in matters medical).

One suggestison: I probably would not get it through Lifeline but rather through my primary doc's usual resources. I know cost might be an issue forcing the decision, but if you go with Lifeline or similar, consider restricting it to the abdominal ultrasound and pass on the "bundle" usually including carotids, peripheral vascular (legs), EKG etc. Those have no screening value for those at average risk and should be used more selectively.
I agree with your assessment; however, a lot of people will consider the low cost of the screening as a benefit far overshadowing any risk. What is the risk in taking the test? Also, everyone should note that Medicare now pays for the cost of testing for AAA (with some restrictions). The stent in my abdominal aorta still worries me more than the open heart surgery I went through in 2004.
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Old 04-08-2011, 03:26 PM   #9
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I was sent to a cardiologist by my primary care due to family history and he evaluated me and decided on which test was appropriate. Call me skeptical, but I am not fond of mobile anything and now I have baseline cardiac testing with a local cardiologist group.

With bone density if a woman is seeing a gyn on a regular basis they will screen you, with a frequency depending on family history and risk factors.

with most medical tests there is no one size fits all- you may need more, you may need less.
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Old 04-08-2011, 03:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by JOHNNIE36 View Post
I agree with your assessment; however, ...What is the risk in taking the test? Also, everyone should note that Medicare now pays for the cost of testing for AAA (with some restrictions)..
Incidental findings: small nodule noted in the liver by accident, not sure what it is; further tests at the very least, biopsy in occasional cases. Same with kidneys. Usually end up as very expensive and occasionally dangerous false alarms

Probe wanders a bit and shows asymptomatic gall stones. We do not know whether gallstones discovered in this manner benefit from surgery but you can be sure some of them are removed to no benefit but nontrivial risk.

In low risk individuals, a 3-4 cm AAA may not progress at all over the patients lifetime and surgery may be more risky than not knowing they are there. Different prevalance subgroups change the risk:benefit ratio.

I've got more, but I hope this clarifies. As to cost, the fact that Medicare covers it only tells me that it's a pooled cost, not the individual patient's. Either way it's costly and of value only to well-chosen candidates.

But much like PSA and other related screening tests, once the bell has been rung it is almost impossible to unring it.

OP was a good candidate for the AAA test and I am glad it was discovered early and treated successfully. Others may be in a different situation.
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Old 04-08-2011, 03:55 PM   #11
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I'm sorry to hear about your friend Johnnie...
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Old 04-08-2011, 04:25 PM   #12
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Not to belabor this disscussion, but to be clear, Lifeline Screening like others DO NOT make any recommendations except to see you doctor for further evaluation. The decision as to how far to progress with testing would be up to your pyhsician. That's the end of it for Lifeline. Do I owe my life to Lifeline? No. I owe my life to my wife for talking me into going with her to be tested. Who knows what might have happened had I not been screened.
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