Swedish News Blog

Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

Rocco G. Ciocca, MD

Rocco G. Ciocca, MD
Chief of Vascular Surgery

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when a weak area in the aorta (the major blood vessel that sends blood through the body) dilates and quietly expands. The dilated area can rupture or leak. Often AAA is only discovered when it appears on an X-ray taken for some other reason – or when it ruptures.
 
AAA is the third leading cause of death in men ages 60 and older. Nearly 90 percent of the time, a ruptured AAA causes death, so it is important to discover and treat it early.
 
Risk factors include:

Varicose veins with summer on the way

Brian C. Lange

Brian C. Lange
Vascular Surgeon


Ah, spring in the Puget Sound region. Visions of warm days, shorts and skirts and being self-conscious about varicose veins may be dancing in your head. Is there anything you can do?

Some of us wear shorts and skirts anyway, ignoring furtive glances or curious comments, while others just hide their veins under hose or pants. A third option is available: treatment.

Whether you’ve got little red, flat spider veins, big, blue bulging varicose veins, or something in between, you’ve got the same problem – just of a different magnitude. Spider veins and varicose veins occur in the legs when the one-way valves in the blood vessels no longer work right, which lets blood collect in the veins instead of flowing back to the heart. This makes the veins widen, often becoming unsightly and uncomfortable. Most commonly varicose veins near the skin surface are caused by leaky valves in veins deeper in the leg. Untreated, varicose veins typically worsen over time.

To improve the appearance of your legs...

Hardening of the arteries is a disease for the ages

Rocco G. Ciocca, MD

Rocco G. Ciocca, MD
Chief of Vascular Surgery

A couple of months ago the New York Times published an interesting article summarizing recent findings of researchers who performed CT scans on mummies from Egypt, Peru, the Aleutian Islands and the American Southwest. One of the striking findings was that 38 percent of Egyptian mummies and 29 percent of all other mummies had definite or probable evidence of hardening of the arteries. The incidence was higher in mummies of people of 40 years or older. The geography and diets for the mummies varied greatly and yet the rates of calcified arteries were fairly similar.

What you should know about atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries:

Hardening of the arteries (also known as atherosclerosis) is a disease that has been strongly associated with multiple risk factors. The risk factors in addition to age include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. Many of these risk factors are associated with diets that are high in saturated fats or complex carbohydrates and thus to connect this study to modern times is not easy...

Patients who inspire

Rocco G. Ciocca, MD

Rocco G. Ciocca, MD
Chief of Vascular Surgery

We are living and working in a dynamic time for healthcare. New and exciting therapies are being developed and technology allows us to successfully, safely and effectively treat patients who previously would have died. However, we also face many challenges – such as a significant number of our patients who remain uninsured or underinsured.

And yet, there are a lot of things about the delivery of healthcare that separate it from being just a job, a source of income or a place to which to go every day. We assist, treat and care for patients and often times, become inspired by the people with whom we have regular contact. The sources of that inspiration are many and often include colleagues, ancillary staff and our patients.

The source of inspiration can be subtle and come unexpectedly. Such an instance happened to me just last week. I was asked to see a gentleman to evaluate an arteriovenous fistula (AV fistula) on his left arm which he uses four or five times a week for hemodialysis.

For those who don’t know, kidney failure is a very difficult problem to manage. When one gets to end stage kidney failure, dialysis treatment is necessary to stay alive.. One of the more common forms of access to the bloodstream for hemodialysis is to surgically connect a patient’s artery to a vein. This connection is usually done in the arm, and, when it functions properly, provides a high flow, superficial access site for fairly large needles which allow for blood to be taken out of the body and then, once cleansed, returned safely back into the body.

As I frequently try to do, I scanned the patient’s problem list in his electronic medical record so I would have at least some idea about his overall medical condition before the appointment. With a mental picture of a chronically ill and obese patient in mind, I entered the exam room to find a very fit looking gentleman waiting for me. I thought I had the wrong room...

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