LAFAYETTE — Four years ago, Roland Suire balked when his daughter made him an appointment for a free screening for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
But minutes into the sonogram, the technician told the Erath man to wait while he went to get a doctor to examine him.
“I had an aneurysm 9-point-something centimeters in diameter. They said it was as big as a baby’s head,” recalled Suire, now 78. “If it hadn’t been for my daughter, I’d be gone today.”
Dr. Mitchell Lirtzman, Suire’s surgeon; The Regional Medical Center of Acadiana; and Aneurysm Outreach of Prairieville will hold their fourth annual abdominal aortic aneurysm screening event from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Medical Office Building of The Regional Medical Center of Acadiana, 4212 W. Congress St.
While the service is free, appointments are required.
An aneurysm is a weakness in the wall of an artery and can occur anywhere in the body, explained Lirtzman, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon with the Louisiana Heart, Lung & Vascular Center.
Think of a weak spot in a tire, he said. As the weakened spot grows larger, it creates tension on the artery wall and ruptures, causing internal bleeding, he said.
“It can take on various shapes and sizes, and almost all of them are silent until they become symptomatic,” Lirtzman said. “When they become large enough, then they become deadly.”
The abdominal aorta supplies blood to the stomach, pelvis and legs, and the screening checks the area below the kidneys where it splits down to the legs. This is the area where most abdominal aortic aneurysms occur, Lirtzman said.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are the 13th-leading cause of death in the United States and the third-leading cause of sudden death in men, he said.
In Suire’s case, the size of the aneurysm made surgery necessary to prevent a rupture, which would have been likely in less than a year, Lirtzman said.
Suire said he had no symptoms and had no major health concerns, but he did have a family history of aneurysms: His father died of an aneurysm.
“My advice would be that everybody gets checked,” he said. “Even though it doesn’t run in your family, you don’t know. I had no knowledge, no pain, no discomfort. If it wouldn’t have been for the screening, I wouldn’t have known to go to the doctor. I had no symptoms that something was wrong with me.”
The screening is recommended for men between the ages of 60 and 85, women between the ages of 60 and 85 who have cardiovascular risk factors and anyone who has immediate family history of aneurysms. Risk factors include hardening of the arteries, smoking, hypertension, family history, being over age 60 and being male.
“It is a silent killer and the treatment, while it requires a surgery, the operation is curative,” Lirtzman said.
To make an appointment for the Nov. 10 screening, call (877) 344-6601.
Participants are asked not to eat or drink anything for eight hours before their scheduled appointments.