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8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 356-3945

Release: Aug. 24, 2000

UIHC to conduct free peripheral vascular disease screenings, cholesterol checks

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Health Care will conduct free screenings for people at risk for peripheral vascular disease (PVD), a potentially fatal disease affecting eight million Americans. Other tests, including cholesterol checks and ultrasound examinations that can detect life-threatening aneurysms in the abdomen, will also be provided free of charge. The screening will be Saturday, Sept. 23 from 8:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. at UI Hospitals and Clinics at 200 Hawkins Drive in Iowa City.

Frequently associated with stroke or heart attack, PVD is caused by blocked blood flow in the arteries of the legs and often causes pain, coldness, difficulty walking, hair loss, skin discoloration, tingling or numbness in the feet or legs, and infections or sores on the feet that are slow to heal. UI Hospitals and Clinics is taking part in "Legs for Life -- National Screening Week for PVD Leg Pain," Sept. 17-23. The program is sponsored by the Society of Cardiovascular & Interventional Radiology (SCVIR), the national professional society of interventional radiologists. These physicians treat PVD and many other conditions using minimally invasive procedures that are alternatives to open surgery. UI Heart Care, a heart and vascular center at UI Hospitals and Clinics, is sponsoring the screening. The event is being coordinated by Mel Sharafuddin, M.D., professor and head of the division of vascular/interventional radiology in the department of radiology.

"Early detection and treatment of vascular disease is important to successfully controlling the disorder," said Sharafuddin. "The sooner PVD is detected and treated, the better the chances to manage the disease with exercise and risk management such as improved diet and smoking cessation. That's why we feel this screening is such a crucial public health service."

It is necessary to make an appointment for the screening by calling UI Health Access at
1-800-777-8442 or (319)-384-8442. Screening participants will be provided convenient, close-in parking at no cost. Valet service will also be available free of charge. Screening participants can turn east off Hawkins Drive (at the traffic light on the south end of Kinnick Stadium) and park at the south entrance of the John Pappajohn Pavilion.

"It is also crucial to understand that PVD is strongly associated with very high risk for future heart attack or stroke. Hence, PVD should be regarded as an early warning sign to the presence of otherwise asymptomatic, but potentially lethal cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease," Sharafuddin said.

People with appointments to be screened will be asked to fill out a questionnaire and information form to help determine their risk for PVD. A brief screening exam will be done to obtain blood pressure readings in the person's arm and ankle to further assess the potential for disease. People who appear to be at moderate or high risk for PVD will be advised to see their personal physician for additional evaluation.

Vascular disease such as PVD is most common among men and women over the age of 50, people diagnosed with diabetes, smokers and people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. "PVD starts so quietly that many people don't realize that they have a problem," added Rick Lyerly, MD, vascular/interventional radiologist. "Many think that they are simply feeling the natural effects of aging, when they could actually have something very serious developing."

More than 77,000 patients were screened at 525 U.S. hospitals during Legs for Life week in September of 1999. Nearly one out of four patients were found to be at moderate or high risk for PVD and were referred to their primary care physicians for further evaluation. For more information about Legs for Life, visit online


University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.