Sharon Theimer (@stheimer)
Activity by Sharon Theimer
Bulges in body’s major blood vessel can cause potentially lethal ruptures, blood clots
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a potentially life-threatening condition: If the body’s major blood vessel ruptures, it can prove deadly. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently updated its recommendations on screening. Mayo Clinic vascular surgeon Peter Gloviczki, M.D., explains who should be watched for abdominal aortic aneurysms, how they are diagnosed and how surgery, which now includes a less invasive endovascular option, is improving survival rates:
What abdominal aortic aneurysms are: a bulge in the aorta, which is the body’s largest artery and is located in the abdomen above the belly button. The greatest risk is that the aneurysm will rupture.
“With every heartbeat there is increased pressure on the area of the aorta that has a weak wall and it bulges out, and ultimately when it reaches a certain size, it is going to rupture,” says Dr. Gloviczki, the Joe M. and Ruth Roberts Professor of Surgery at Mayo Clinic and past president of the Society for Vascular Surgery. “And rupture is a lethal complication.” [...]
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released recommendations Tuesday on which symptom-free patients should be screened for abdominal aortic aneurysms, potentially deadly ruptures of the body's major blood vessel.
The panel recommended one-time screening with an ultrasound for men 65 to 75 who smoke, and also for those who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes. It says more research is needed to determine whether screening women in that age group who smoke or have smoked would be helpful.
Non-smoking men 65 to 75 should consult with their physician to see whether they should be screened based on their health history, such as a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms. It recommended against screening non-smoking women.
Mayo Clinic vascular surgeon Peter Gloviczki, M.D., welcomed the task force recommendation to screen older men with a history of tobacco use.
"It is important to screen patients because most people with abdominal aortic aneurysms don't have symptoms," says Dr. Gloviczki, a past president of the Society for Vascular Surgery.
Male gender, older age, a history of smoking, a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms and medical conditions such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysms, he says.
The question of whether to screen becomes more complicated among women, Dr. Gloviczki says.
"These are the recommendations I am sure will stir some controversy," Dr. Gloviczki says. "I think there are certain situations, particularly when there's a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms, when women should be screened."
Journalists: Soundbites of Dr. Gloviczki explaining and reacting to the task force recommendations are available in the downloads below. To arrange an interview with Dr. Gloviczki, please contact Sharon Theimer in Mayo Clinic Public Affairs at email@example.com or 507-284-5005.
June is Home Safety Month; July 4 fireworks also cause for special attention to risk
Facial hair and home oxygen therapy can prove a dangerously combustible combination, a Mayo Clinic report published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings finds. To reach that conclusion, researchers reviewed home oxygen therapy-related burn cases and experimented with a mustachioed mannequin, a facial hair-free mannequin, nasal oxygen tubes and sparks. They found that facial hair raises the risk of home oxygen therapy-related burns, and encourage health care providers to counsel patients about the risk.
More than 1 million people in the United States use home oxygen therapy, and it is on the rise around the world, especially in countries where smoking is increasing, the researchers say.
Mustaches and other facial hair can act as kindling for nasal oxygen tubes when a spark joins the mix, even if the spark is just a tiny ember that flies at an oxygen tank user from a match, grill or fireworks. [...]
Rochester, Minn. — Rheumatoid arthritis patients overall are twice as likely as the average person to develop heart problems. Pinpointing which rheumatoid arthritis patients need stepped-up heart disease prevention efforts has been a challenge; research by Mayo Clinic and others has found that standard heart disease risk assessment tools may underrate the danger a particular person faces. To better pinpoint rheumatoid arthritis patients’ heart disease risk, an international team that includes Mayo researchers has created a heart disease risk calculator tailored to rheumatoid arthritis.
Details on the new method, known as the Transatlantic Cardiovascular Risk Calculator for Rheumatoid Arthritis, or ATACC-RA, were presented at the European League Against Rheumatism annual meeting June 11-14 in Paris. The research team includes institutions from around the United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Europe; Mayo is gathering and analyzing the group’s data.
Flying is as safe as ground travel after chest surgery, Mayo study finds
Rochester, Minn. — Summer travel isn’t for vacation alone. For some people, it may include a trip to an out-of-town hospital for surgery. If you are traveling for chest surgery, you may wonder whether it is safer to return home by car or plane. A new Mayo Clinic study found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, air travel is just as safe as ground travel after chest surgery, and there is often no reason to wait for weeks after an operation to fly home. Lead study author Stephen Cassivi, M.D., a Mayo Clinic thoracic surgeon, offers these five tips for safer, more comfortable travel home after surgery:
It's Arthritis Action Month, held to draw attention to more than 100 forms of arthritis that collectively affect millions of Americans, including women, men and children. To learn more about the three most common types - osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis - please join #arthritischat on Twitter tomorrow, Thursday, May 15, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET.
The chat, moderated by USA Today health reporter Liz Szabo, will cover symptoms, prevention and treatment of these painful and often debilitating diseases, plus coping techniques and promising research.
_ Mayo Clinic rheumatologists John Davis III, M.D.; Thomas Osborn, M.D.; and Steven Ytterberg, M.D.
_ The National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
_ The American College of Rheumatology.
_ The Arthritis Foundation.
_ The Rheumatology Research Foundation.
_ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office on Smoking and Health.
Please tweet your questions and comments to #arthritischat.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic research into whether ultrasounds to detect breast cancer in underarm lymph nodes are less effective in obese women has produced a surprising finding. Fat didn’t obscure the images — and ultrasounds showing no suspicious lymph nodes actually proved more accurate in overweight and obese patients than in women with a normal body mass index, the study found. The research is among several Mayo studies presented at the American Society of Breast Surgeons annual meeting April 30-May 4 in Las Vegas.
Researchers studied 1,331 breast cancer patients who received ultrasounds of their axillary lymph nodes, the lymph nodes in the armpits, to check for cancer before surgery. Of those patients, 36 percent were considered obese, with a body mass index of 30 or more. Body mass index is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. Of the other women studied, 33 percent were of normal weight and 31 percent were overweight but not obese.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a leading cause of respiratory failure after surgery. Patients who develop the lung disorder postoperatively are at higher risk of dying in the hospital, and those who survive the syndrome may still bear its physical effects years later. A Mayo Clinic-led study is helping physicians better identify patients most at risk, the first step toward preventing this dangerous and costly surgical complication. They found nine independent risk factors, including sepsis, high-risk aortic vascular surgery, high-risk cardiac surgery, emergency surgery, cirrhosis of the liver, and admission to the hospital from a location other than home, such as a nursing home.
The findings are published in the journal Anesthesiology.
“This is a very common reason for needing an extended course of breathing support after surgery, and approximately 20 to 25 percent of patients who develop the syndrome will die from it,” says first author Daryl Kor, M.D., a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist. “It’s well-documented that those who develop this syndrome stay in intensive care longer and in the hospital longer, and the impact of the syndrome can persist for many years.” [...]