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Aortic Centers Combat 'Silent Killer'

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, October 6, 2011

That allows the patient to go directly from a helicopter landing pad or triage ambulance to the operating room when appropriate. The rapid response has lowered mortality rates to 18% to 25%, from an average of 50%, he says.

 "We have a Level 1 trauma center, and we have an operating room always manned and ready to go," Kasper says of Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center's rapid-response approach. "We're able to move the patient in quickly, using a stent graft and minimally invasive repair" of the aorta. Using minimally invasive endovascular treatment, coupled with the rapid-response approach, is improving outcomes, he says.

But I wonder if physicians are doing enough to get the message across that patients with the condition may susceptible to a potentially grave condition.

The 94-year-old patient, for example, didn't know what was building in his body.

He was found unconscious at home, and eventually diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. Thanks to rapid response, he recovered at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where a stent graft was placed inside the blood vessel without surgically opening it, and his life was saved.

Before the surgery, Kasper wanted to be sure the elderly patient knew about options for his care.

"I had the opportunity to talk to him, and asked him if (the aneurysm) was something he wanted fixed," Kasper recalls. "He was somebody who lived independently and played golf four days a week. He said, 'let's do it.'"

Kasper examined the man's twin brother, who showed no indication of an aortic condition, and Kasper monitored the twins' younger, 86-year-old brother, who may have a slight aneurysm. "We're keeping an eye on him," he says, and that may save his life.


Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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1 comments on "Aortic Centers Combat 'Silent Killer'"


Sheila Arrington (10/6/2011 at 3:31 PM)
This is an excellent article. I founded Aneurysm Outreach Inc (AOI) in late 1999 and it became the first of its kind non-profit to the U.S. aortic aneurysm arena in 2000. AOI's mission is to educate an unaware public and assist in saving lives by creating partnerships to provide free AAA ultrasound screening programs for those most at risk. AOI's goal is to take its Louisiana-based program to a national level. AOI hopes that the family members and friends of those affected by AAA will choose AOI as their charity of choice and support its screening efforts as well as its long-term goal of funding AAA genetic research