Cook Medical is partnering with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) at this year’s AOPA Aviation Summit in Tampa, Fla. from November 5-7 to provide free abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screenings to its attendees at high risk for AAA. Preventive screenings for AAAs, a “silent killer” and the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in men over age 55, have proven effective in detecting the condition early and enabling interventional treatment.
“AAAs typically develop asymptomatically until they reach a critical point, making early detection and treatment key to improving patient outcomes,” said Phil Nowell, global director of Cook’s Aortic Intervention strategic business unit. “By partnering with the AOPA to offer free AAA screenings at the Aviation Summit, we hope to educate America’s pilots on the importance of preventive screening to detect and treat this deadly disease early and effectively.”
AAAs affect approximately 200,000 Americans every year, and occur when a section of the wall of the aorta, the body’s main blood vessel, weakens and creates a dangerous bulge that can rupture. Early interventional treatment of AAAs is critical, as fewer than 20 percent of those who experience a ruptured AAA survive, and is especially important for pilots, as a midflight rupture could create an extremely dangerous emergency. According to Medicare guidelines, male patients between the ages of 65 to 75 who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, or patients with a family history of AAA, should be screened. Using minimally invasive ultrasound technology, a technician can determine whether an aneurysm is developing by taking images and measurements of the aorta. If the aorta measures more than three centimeters in diameter, an aneurysm is often suspected.
If an AAA is detected, treatment may include endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR), which is a less invasive alternative to the traditional treatment option, open surgery. When treated by open surgery, a large incision is made in the abdomen to allow a surgeon to clamp off the aorta and replace the damaged section with a surgical graft. This highly invasive method can lead to serious complications and extended recovery times. Conversely, during the minimally invasive EVAR procedure, an endograft is guided into the body by a catheter system to seal off the aneurysm from within. This treatment method typically results in a shorter recovery period and has a higher patient survival rate than open surgery.