It was an ordinary day for Ronald and Kathryn Klang from Watford City. Flipping through the local newspaper, Kathryn saw an ad for a free screening for vascular disease at St. Alexius Medical Center.
They decided to make the trip to Bismarck in order to take advantage of the free screening. Ronald didn’t think much of it; he had always been in fairly good health, so he thought he was just going to be “in-and-out.” This, however, was not the case. As Ronald was sitting there, he saw that the nurse kept checking numbers on the screen and carefully going over his paperwork. “Soon the nurse said we can’t go back to Watford City, we need to get to the ER.” This initial screening, which used ultrasound imaging in order to detect bulging in the aorta, led to the discovery of a three inch abdominal aortic aneurysm, or AAA, for short. “Mr. Klang’s condition was serious, his aneurysm was nearing the size where they will rupture,” said Dr. Michael Brown, a specialist in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at St. Alexius Heart & Lung Clinic. Ronald was taken for surgery to repair his aorta.
According to Dr. Brown, about one out of every 250 people dies of a ruptured AAA. The most common cause of an aortic aneurysm is atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.” The condition is a gradual process where plaque buildup weakens or damages the walls of the blood vessels which can then lead to a rupture. Ruptures can be prevented and treated successfully if the condition is detected early.
Treatment may require surgery, but is not always the case. Dr. Brown states, “A new, interventional radiology technique that does not require open surgery also can be used to repair certain types of aneurysms.”
St. Alexius has the only comprehensive interventional radiology services in the region.
“Mr. Klang’s outcome was excellent…having the free screening provided by St. Alexius saved his life,” said Dr. Brown. Since returning home, Ronald has almost made a complete recovery. He is grateful to his wife, who made him go to the screening, as well as the doctors, nurses, and staff at St. Alexius. Without them, Ronald might not have known anything was wrong until it was too late.
Since the event, Kathryn has become a strong advocate for health screenings, informing her friends and family about upcoming screenings. They are reminded that each day is a blessing as there were no warning signs indicating something was wrong. “Preventative medicine is the best way to go,” said Kathryn as she held Ronald’s hand.” Many people in rural areas have to take off work and travel just as we had to. It might seem like an inconvenience at the time but it is worth it in the long run.” Her best piece of advice: “Go to health screenings, it might just save your life.”
To schedule an appointment with St. Alexius Heart & Lung Clinic, call 530-7502 or (800) 932-8848.