Making a Difference

A vascular team has launched a massive strike against vascular disease in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, and they've brought members of the legislature, medical profession and business community together to ensure its success.

So far, so good. Since the day the effort began on May 1, 168 patients have been screened for signs of the disease. Out of those, 14 patients were found to have severe disease including nine aneurysms. Two of those aneurysms were considered critical enough that the patients were admitted for surgery within two weeks of discovery.

"Over 30 percent of the patients we have seen have high risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes," says program co-director Louise Hanson, a nurse practitioner.

The goal is to make the residents of Anne Arundel County the healthiest in the country. Once the leaders of this effort are successful in their fight against vascular disease in this county, they hope medical leaders in other areas of the state and country will follow suit.

On April 29, House Speaker Michael Busch, Sen. John Astle, Del. Virginia Clagett, Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer and county attorney Linda Schuett joined vascular surgeon Dr. John Martin of Cardiology Associates in Annapolis, Martin Doordan, president of Anne Arundel Medical Center and leaders from several national and local businesses including GE Medical Systems, Guidant and Sandy Spring National Bank to kick off the massive free screening called "Dare to C.A.R.E. About Vascular Disease District 30 Project." The event was held at the Stanton Center at 92 W. Washington Street in the Greater Clay Street Community.

Originally, it was their goal to screen every at- risk person in the District 30 area, which includes more than 10,000 people, in the next year. Recently, however, the team decided to expand their efforts to include the entire county."It was the recommendation of county health officials and County Executive Janet Owens that we screen the entire county," says Dr. Martin, the doctor leading the effort. "We agreed. We didn't want the residents of North County to miss out on the life-saving benefits of this program."

The participants will be evaluated for vascular disease of the carotid arteries, abdominal aortic aneurysms, renal artery disease and extremity artery disease, which is where the project's name, "Dare to C.A.R.E.," originated. In addition to the vascular testing, the medical team will provide important informational brochures and sponsor community lecture programs. These events will be held throughout the year to educate the public on the dangers of vascular diseases and the keys to preventing lethal complications. "We can make a difference, and we're going to do that starting with this community," Dr. Martin says.

Hours before the April 29 kick-off event, Dr. Martin and Ms. Hanson screened 20 residents of the Greater Clay Street Community and visitors to the Stanton Center. They discovered symptoms of heart disease in two of the residents screened.

"I can already say that we are saving lives," Dr. Martin said to the crowd of more than 50 people, including residents and those involved in the project such as businessmen and legislators. The four legislators who attended the event said they are proud to be a part of this important effort in healthcare.

"It's a pretty neat idea and hopefully it's going to improve the health of Anne Arundel County," said Sen. Astle who, along with Del. Busch and Mayor Moyer, was screened at the event.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in this country. Unfortunately, a majority of the patients with the disease are unaware until severe complications or death occurs. Identifying cardiovascular disease at an early stage is critical since more than 30 percent of these patients will die within five years following a cardiovascular event such as a stroke. Early detection, aggressive risk-factor modification, lifestyle changes and drug therapy can reduce these morbidity statistics and dramatically improve the longevity and quality of life of our population.

This program is focused on all residents who are age 60 or older and those 50 and above with a history of smoking or high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, or diabetes.

District 30 was chosen as the first area to lead the project because of the broad population demographics, diverse socio-economic backgrounds, challenging but manageable population, proximity to the testing area and committed support of political leaders. Upon successfully completing the project, its leaders hope the program will serve as the model in the fight against vascular disease.

Testing will be held at the AAMC Vascular Institute in the Sajak Pavilion on the campus of Anne Arundel Medical Center on Jennifer Road as well as in communities and community centers throughout the district including the Stanton Center.

If signs of vascular disease are found in a patient, the medical personnel administering the screening will contact the patient's primary care physician about the findings. If the patient does not have a primary care physician, he or she will be given a list of doctors for treatment or, if necessary, the patient will be connected with an organization which helps low-income residents find the funding and appropriate doctors for such treatment.

Dr. Martin leads a team of several doctors on AAMC's medical staff who are participating in the Dare to C.A.R.E. program in an effort to fight vascular disease. They include Jon Hupp, M.D., Jonathan Althschuler, M.D., Robert Lager, M.D., John Kennedy, M.D., Kelly Sullivan, M.D., Adrian Preston, M.D., Mitch Schwartz, M.D., Liz Kingsley, M.D., Mark Peeler, M.D., Thomas Lank, M.D., Nicholas Malakis, M.D., and George Odell, M.D.

"I'm very pleased that we have the opportunity to participate together to try and improve the health of Anne Arundel County residents," Dr. Peeler says. "Vascular disease is generally under-diagnosed and under-treated."

If you would like to participate in this important free vascular screening program, contact the Dare to C.A.R.E. staff at 410-573-9483. Additional information can be obtained by calling Ask AAMC at 443-481-4000 or refer to or

Margot Mohsberg is a resident of Eastport and the media relations associate for Anne Arundel Health System.


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