LEWISTON – Central Maine Medical Center will offer a free screening for a relatively common but potentially life threatening condition known as abdominal aortic aneurysm on Saturday, Sept. 10. The screening will be held in conjunction with CMMC’s Legs For Life Screening for Vascular Disease.

The screenings will be held at the Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration is required and space is limited. Call 795-2641 to register.

AAA is caused by a weakened area in the main vessel that supplies blood from the heart to the rest of the body. When blood flows through the aorta, the weakened area bulges like a balloon. If the balloon grows large enough, it may burst.

AAA affects some 5 to 7 percent of people over the age of 60, with males four times more likely to have AAA than females. It is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and accounts for more than 15,000 deaths each year. It has been estimated that the incidence of the disease has grown three-fold in the U.S. in 30 years, probably due to the aging of the population.

AAA has been described as a silent disease because patients often have no symptoms until their aneurysm bursts. More than half of all patients with a ruptured aneurysm will die from the condition. However, AAA can be diagnosed and treated before it ruptures and individuals with the condition can go on to lead full, productive lives.

People who are at highest risk include males over the age of 60 with a history of tobacco use and/or atherosclerosis and males and females who have a family history of AAA.

The screening will include a patient questionnaire that assesses an individual’s risk for AAA or peripheral artery disease. Where appropriate, participants will be referred to their primary care physicians for follow-up.

PAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet become blocked by atherosclerosis or other medical conditions. The primary symptom is pain that occurs during exercise and subsides during rest.

To learn more about the screening, call Kelly LeBlond, RN, manager of cardiac prevention programs and outreach for the Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute, 795-2641. Consumers can obtain additional information by visiting www.legsforlife.org.

CMHVI will also have bone density screening for those registered for AAA or PAD screenings. There will be literature available on heart disease and risk factors such as hypertension and cholesterol. Information about women and heart disease, Mended Hearts and other programs will be available as well.

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