More than 15,000 people die each year in the U.S. from rupture of an aortic aneurysm (AAA). It is estimated that more than one million people are living with undiagnosed AAA and at least 95 percent of these can be successfully treated if detected prior to rupture. Comedian, Harvey Korman, died May 29, 2008, after suffering complications from the rupture of an AAA four months prior.

Qualified seniors are eligible for a one-time AAA ultrasound screening as part of their Welcome to Medicare physical. The physical must be conducted during the first six months of enrollment. Those who qualify for the Medicare screening must meet the following guidelines:

-- Men who have smoked sometime during their life
-- Men and women with a family history of AAA

AAA is an enlargement or "bulge" that develops in a weakened area within the largest artery in the abdomen. The pressure generated by each heartbeat pushes against the weakened aortic wall, causing the aneurysm to enlarge. If the AAA remains undetected, the aortic wall continues to weaken, and the aneurysm continues to grow. Eventually, the aneurysm becomes so large, and its wall so weak, that rupture occurs. When this happens there is massive internal bleeding, a situation that is usually fatal. The only way to break this cycle is to find the AAA before it ruptures.

Although AAA has few symptoms some patients report:

-- A pulsing feeling in their abdomen
-- Unexplained, severe pain in their abdomen or lower back
-- Pain, discoloration, or sores on their feet (this is a rare symptom)

People experiencing symptoms of AAA, or if unrelated tests reveal AAA may be present, should see a vascular surgeon. They are the only physicians treating vascular disease today who can perform all the treatment options available, including medical management, minimally invasive endovascular stent graft procedures, or open AAA repair.

To learn more about AAA and other vascular diseases visit at

About the Society for Vascular Surgery

The Society for Vascular Surgery is a not-for-profit medical society that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for 2,400 vascular surgeons dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease. Visit the website at

Society for Vascular Surgery
633 N. St. Clair, 24th Fl.
Chicago, IL 60611
United States