by J.B. Hunt

Russell LaRochelle lost his mother because of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and it’s been on his mind for years.

“Until we heard about this screening, I didn’t know he had been carrying this in his heart all this time,” said his wife Patricia. “I figured it ran in the family,” he said. Patricia and Russell both are at ease now, after taking advantage of a free screening and learning that neither of them have an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

An aortic aneurysm is a ballooning of the aorta which is the artery that carries blood to the lower part of the body. This type of aneurysm rupture is a significant cause of sudden death in men 60 and older in the United States. Risk factors for AAA include a history of smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and hardening of the arteries. Although these aneurysms can cause sudden death, there is a lifesaving step that anyone can take in order to prevent the occurrence from happening. 

The AAAneurysm Outreach and the University Medical Center of New Orleans are collaborating to provide free aneurysm screenings from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 at 2000 Canal Street. Testing will be provided for abdominal aortic aneurysms and thoracic aortic aneurysms. Both of these can be deadly, yet have no symptoms. According to William Risher, a vascular surgeon at University Medical Center, it is extremely easy to get tested. “These screenings are very simple and noninvasive- no needles or radiation. It only takes a few minutes and is painless,” said Risher. “We will be able to determine whether or not an aneurysm is present. If the aneurysm is found early, it can be treated to prevent rupturing.”

Individuals must meet eligibility requirements for the screening. Individuals 60 and older who have at least two cardiovascular risk factors and men age 55 and older with a family history of abdominal or thoracic aortic aneurysm and at least one additional cardiovascular risk factor are eligible for the screening once every five years.

Advance registration and an 8-hour fast are required.  Call (888) 871-3801 for an appointment.

Founded in 1999 in Louisiana, AAAneurysm Outreach is the nation’s only non-profit that provides education, free health screenings and awareness of abdominal aortic aneurysms, and provides comprehensive outreach for at-risk individuals –-typically smokers, men and women over the age of 60, those with hypertension and people with a family history of the condition.