On June 11, 65 Y’s Men of Meriden were treated to a PowerPoint Presentation by Dr. Albert Sam, M.D., working at the Middletown office of The Vascular Experts, the largest group of Board-certified vascular surgeons in the nation. And in 45 minutes, he covered the gamut of vascular disease afflicting the human body with emphasis on the lower extremities.
Sam started by noting that the incidence of leg amputation due to blood vessel disease is highest in the deep South and inland from the eastern seaboard; indeed, Louisiana has the highest rate in the country, much of which is related to ethnicity as well as disproportionate rates of diabetes, smoking, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Comparing arteries to highways, he stated that occlusive arterial disease can lead to catastrophic results, in contrast to venous diseases (such as deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins and venous insufficiency) which rarely lead to life-threatening outcomes.
Early signs of arterial disease include dry atrophic skin on the legs, thickened toenails that do not respond to antifungal treatment and hair loss on the legs and toes; these sometimes progress to muscle atrophy, skin ulcers and gangrene. A patient wants to prevent “Critical Limb Ischemia” which like a marker may foretell a mortality of about 32 percent within two years. Arterial blockage may be confirmed by ultrasound or with an angiogram (sometimes enhanced by computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging). Treatment of a serious blockage may include a bypass graft, endarterectomy or even amputation. For milder forms of stenosis, a balloon angioplasty, placement of a stent or a “coring out” of the blockage may suffice.
Sam also discussed carotid artery blockage and noted that 700,000 strokes annually result in the fourth leading cause of death. Carotid artery stenosis may initially present as a TIA (transient ischemic attack) with symptoms sometimes progressing from facial droop, slurred speech, and visual loss to weakness on one side of the body. Diagnosis with ultrasound or angiogram may lead to medical treatment, stenting of the narrowing, or open surgery. And abdominal aortic aneurysm (with 200,000 new cases diagnosed annually) has become the tenth leading cause of mortality in men over age 55. With rupture of the aneurysm, survival rate is today less than 5 percent. Rupture may be averted with insertion of a graft inside the aorta.
Retired or semi-retired men from Meriden or surrounding communities, interested in attending a Y’s Men of Meriden meeting, are invited to call 203-238-7784 or visit the www.ysmenofmeriden.com website.