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Coastal Vascular & Vein Center, urges patients, especially those with diabetes and peripheral artery disease, to seek wound care early

Coastal Vascular & Vein Center, urges patients, especially those with diabetes and peripheral artery disease, to seek wound care early

Zachary M. Arthurs, MD

On a mission to preserve patients’ lives and limbs, Zachary M. Arthurs, M.D., of Coastal Vascular & Vein Center, urges patients, especially those with diabetes. and peripheral artery disease, to seek wound care early.

Annual physicals tend to include a checklist of tests for both men and women: blood count, blood pressure and screenings for cholesterol, diabetes and colon cancer. Adding one more, noninvasive test to the list would stop a silent killer that many people fear: the rupture of an aortic aneurysm.

An aortic aneurysm is a bulging and weakened area in the wall of the aorta, the largest artery in the body responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Over time, this weakened section of the aorta can enlarge and create a risk of rupture, which can cause severe internal bleeding and rapidly lead to shock or even death.

“It is called a silent killer,” said Dr. Arthurs. “There are no symptoms, and, when it pops, you are done.”

“Women over 60 have a higher rate of death because of a rupture than men,” Dr. Arthurs added. “And yet screening for an aortic aneurysm is not on the radar for most primary care doctors or OB/GYNs.”

The screening, which begins with a sonogram, is covered by insurance and Medicare. Dr. Arthurs suspects that the lack of screening is linked to the fact that doctors are so buried by day-to-day details that it is easy for screening to drop off the radar.

“The screening is super easy, but, for whatever reasoning, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” he said.

Some states and hospital systems – including Texas and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – require annual aortic aneurysm screenings for patients who are 60 to 65 years old. As a result, they are seeing a significant decrease in the num- ber of deaths linked to aortic ruptures, Dr. Arthur noted.

Screening is one sure way to detect a problem that has no early warning signs.

In addition to championing the “get screened” cause, Dr. Arthurs would like to see screening that includes differentiation between the acceptable size of an aorta for men and women. To date, men and women are screened for the same normal versus dilated size.

The symptoms of a ruptured aortic aneurysm can be sudden and severe. They may include:

  • Intense and persistent chest or abdominal pain
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale and clammy skin
  • Loss of consciousness

“A good screening can save a lot of lives,” said Dr. Zachary M. Arthurs. “For every 1 out of 10 aortic rupture cases in the emergency room, there are eight unscreened, untreated patients dying at home.”

With a more customized screening, specialists can take a closer look at why women are dying at a faster rate than men,” Dr. Arthurs explained.

Dr. Arthurs came to Coastal Vascular & Vein Center as a highly-awarded retired Army lieutenant colonel with almost 15 years of vas- cular surgery experience, including serving at the helm of the prestigious Vascular Surgery Depart- ment at Brooke Army Medical Center.

Dr. Arthurs received his bachelor of science in chemistry and nuclear engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and went on to complete medical school at the University of Oklahoma. His general surgery residency was completed at Madigan Army Medical Center, followed by a vascular surgery fellowship at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He is double board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and currently sits on the Program Committee for the Pacific Northwest Endovascular Conference and is positioned on the editorial board for the Journal of Vascular Surgery.

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