A national awareness campaign aims to provide free, pharmacy-based screenings for a deadly but treatable condition.
Former NFL quarterback Joe Theissman recently joined Kmart pharmacies in promoting free ultrasound screenings for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). The campaign was coordinated with a group called Find the AAAnswers, and is part of a larger national effort to expand access to screening for at-risk individuals.
AAA, pronounced triple A, is a blood-filled bulge in the abdominal aorta that can rupture unexpectedly, resulting in death for 75% to 90% of patients who have them. Men are at higher risk than women, and risk increases in individuals older than 60 years, or those with a history of smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or family history of aneurysms.
With Theissman’s help, 1000 Kmart pharmacies across the country will offer free screenings to high risk patients who schedule an appointment. The screenings will be performed by vascular technologists, and take about 15 minutes to complete—a small time investment considering the benefits, according to Find the AAAnswers.
“When detected early, 95% of AAAs can be managed and successfully treated,” said Thomas Maldonado, MD, Associate Professor of Vascular Surgery at New York University Langone Medical Center and a Find the AAAnswers coalition member.
Theissman became a spokesman for the condition after his father was diagnosed with it during a routine checkup following open-heart surgery. He appeared at the campaign’s kickoff event at a Kmart pharmacy in Philadephia, Pennsylvania, on September 10, 2010.
A total of 91 at-risk patients showed up for the initial screening. Similar events are planned for select Kmart pharmacies in the coming months, and patients will have the opportunity to receive risk assessments at Kmart flu clinics. Theissman will continue to generate awareness through interviews, speeches, and media appearances.
“90% of the people who have AAA go undetected and if it bursts, you die,” he told a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News. “If it can be detected and repaired the percentages sway in your favor tremendously.”
For other articles in this issue, see: