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Silent Killer Needs Early Detection

Updated: Wednesday, August 14 2013, 01:26 PM EDT
A man from Loveland says he is likely alive today because doctors at TriHealth were recently able to successfully treat a silent killer.

Local 12's Liz Bonis tells us just who is at risk for this condition in today's Medical Edge.

It is early in the morning as we look on a team of vascular surgeons, led by Doctor Patrick Muck, repairing what's called a triple-a or abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Dr. Patrick Muck, Vascular Surgeon, TriHealth:  "An aortic aneurysm is a weakening of the blood vessel, a ballooning if you will, that pre-disposing patients having that area of the aorta rupture, cause internal bleeding and subsequently death."

The man on this operating table is named Gene Schmidt and this aneurysm was discovered years ago at a health screening event. He had no symptoms and no early warning signs. Part of the reason, however, he chose to share his story and let us go inside the operating room with him was so that we could help others learn more about this condition, and more importantly how you could have lifesaving intervention before anything else goes wrong. 

In this case, Doctor Muck's team saw that Schmidt's triple-a was expanding, so they made a tiny incision in the groin and placed a tube with a stent on the end of it up into the abdominal area.

"To exclude or remove the aneurysm from your circulation, therefore it won't rupture, even with modern techniques, surviving a ruptured aneurysm is about 40 percent."

This is Gene Schmidt now. He knows he was lucky his triple-a was discovered before it ruptured.

"That's why they do call it the silent killer."

Schmidt and and Doctor Muck want others to know, Medicare and others often provide a free screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms in those with certain risk factors.

"It is offered to men who have smoked over 100 cigarettes, or to females who have a family history of aortic aneurysms."

The screenings mainly involve blood pressure, ultrasound and imaging tests.
 All take just a few minutes and as Gene Schmidt knows, could have life-saving results.

"I feel very grateful that I had this given to me."

Your doctor can refer you for the screening tests.
Silent Killer Needs Early Detection

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