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Medicare Now Providing Free, Minimally-Invasive Abdominal Aortic Aneursym Screening.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Hundreds of thousands of Americans who receive Medicare benefits may now have access to an important tool for fighting vascular disease - a free, minimally-invasive screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). In 2007, for the first time, new Medicare beneficiaries at risk for AAA have the opportunity to be screened using painless ultrasound technology. This screening is now part of the Welcome to Medicare physical for many seniors who have certain risk factors.

AAA is a life-threatening weakness in the wall of the aorta and exists in an estimated two million Americans. AAA rupture is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., with an estimated 15,000 seniors dying from AAA rupture each year. Legislation passed last year included provisions of the SAAAVE Act (Screening Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Very Efficiently), enabling screening for men who have smoked at any time in their lives, and for both men and women with a family history of AAA. This benefit is available only to people who are new to the Medicare system.

"AAA screening is an important measure that will save thousands of American lives each year," said vascular surgeon Robert Zwolak, M.D., a professor at Dartmouth Medical School and a member of the Society of Vascular Surgery (SVS), which advocated for the legislation. "Our SVS members worked diligently on SAAAVE. These vascular surgeons concentrate their practices on the prevention and cure of vascular disease, and they know the effectiveness of screening in saving lives."

The SAAAVE Act was sponsored in Congress by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., Rep. Ron Lewis, R-Ky., and Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas. The Act also was endorsed by the National Aneurysm Alliance, a group of medical professional organizations, patient advocates, individuals and medical technology manufacturers dedicated to reducing the number of Americans who die from abdominal aortic aneurysms.

"The test is simple, quick and painless and we encourage all new Medicare beneficiaries to talk to their doctors about this free screening," said Katie Szyman, vice president and general manager of the Endovascular business at Medtronic. "Because there are typically no symptoms or warning signs, most aneurysms are not detected during routine medical examinations. So ultrasound screening is really the most effective way to detect the presence of a potentially life-threatening AAA."

A charter member of the National Aneurysm Alliance, Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) has been providing free screenings for abdominal aortic aneurysms at various clinics throughout the U.S. since 2004. During the past two years, approximately 30,000 people have been screened at 150 locations around the country, and more than 550 potentially life-threatening AAA conditions have been detected.

To learn more about AAA screening and reducing the risk of AAA disease, Medicare recipients and others should consult a physician or visit

About Medtronic

Medtronic, Inc. (, headquartered in Minneapolis, is the global leader in medical technology - alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending life for millions of people around the world.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jan 4, 2007
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