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University Hospital to hold free screening for people with leg pain Sept. 19

Individuals who suffer from leg pain when walking may have peripheral vascular disease (PVD), a potentially fatal disease that affects 10 million Americans. The screening will test for peripheral vascular disease, which is warning sign of increased risk of heart attack, stroke and aneurysm.

To help identify these patients so that they may get follow-up care University Hospital will hold a free PVD screening Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at University Health Care Manlius, 102 W. Seneca Street. Parking is free and refreshments will be served. To make an appointment for a free screening, contact Health Connections at 1-800-464-8668.

During the screening, patients are asked to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire to help determine their risk for PVD. A 10-minute screening exam involves taking the person's arm and ankle blood pressure to further assess the potential of disease.

PVD, most common in men and women over age 50, is a medical condition in which arteries in the leg are clogged or narrowed. Although the cause is not known, factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and family history of heart disease or diabetes contribute to the development of PVD.

"It's extremely important that people who suffer from leg pain get a careful screening, because if diagnosed early PVD can be treated successfully through lifestyle changes or medication," said Kenneth Murphy, M.D., an interventional radiologist who will conduct the screening. "But in its advanced stages, PVD can be deadly."

In addition, those individuals found to be at risk for PVD are also at risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a leading cause of death in the United States. AAA is caused by a weakened area in the main vessel that supplies blood from the heart to the rest of the body. When blood flows through the aorta, the weakened area bulges like a balloon. If the balloon grows large enough it will burst. The comedienne Lucille Ball died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm and former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole was recently treated for one.

The free screening is part of the Legs for Life program sponsored by the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology. Participating hospitals and health centers are offering free leg screening between Sept. 15 to 21. Last year the national free screening program found that one in four people screened were at risk for PVD.

More information on the national screening program can be found at www.legsforlife.org