Aortic Centers Combat 'Silent Killer'
Greg Kasper, MD, FACS, chief vascular surgeon for Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, OH, knows an aortic aneurysm can be genetic. So when he treated a 94-year-old man for the condition, Kasper thought of the patient's brothers – a 94-year-old twin and 86-year-old "baby brother."
The siblings from Ohio reflect the impact aortic aneurysms have on elderly Americans everywhere. One million people may not realize they have the "silent killer" condition, Kasper said.
Kasper talked about the brothers after I interviewed him for a HealthLeaders Media magazine article about the increasing demand for vascular care, attributed to a growing population of aging Americans. Vascular disease covers a lot of ground, from life-threatening conditions such as aortic aneurysms or arterial blockages, to less dangerous, but painful conditions such as varicose veins.
Hospitals specializing in high-volume aortic centers focus on minimally invasive procedures and invest in new technology. Some processes are being developed within aortic centers at Mercy St. Vincent and other hospitals to provide immediate and 24/7 assistance to local hospitals and physicians for rapid diagnosis and treatment of aortic emergencies.
Patients with acute aortic syndrome face some of the most serious and lethal problems in an emergency department or physician's office, says Kasper.
"What we're seeing in Northwest Ohio, with the aging population, and the incidence of diabetes continuing to rise, there's a huge need for vascular care, and it's only increasing," Kasper said. "People in their upper 80s in years, or young 90s, they may have a vascular problem, and you have to correct it, but a lot of people don't know they have it."