News Release

November 1, 2006

Contact: Maureen McGuire, 860-679-4523

Two Good Reasons to Quit Smoking: Your Legs!

UConn Expert Encourages Smokers to Participate in the Great American Smoke Out, Nov. 16th

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Vascular surgeon Michael Dahn, M.D., has two good reasons why smokers should kick the habit as soon as possible: their legs.

“Smoking takes a serious toll on the vascular system and is a major contributor to peripheral vascular disease – a serious, painful condition that occurs when arteries in the legs become clogged with plaque,” said Dr. Dahn, of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

“Too many times, I have seen patients lose limbs directly because of years of smoking and untreated vascular disease,” he added. “That just shouldn’t happen.”

Dr. Dahn and other experts at the UConn Health Center strongly encourage patients to stop smoking. "The Great American Smoke Out on Nov. 16 is an excellent choice for a quit date. Support is available through the American Cancer Society and many other resources,” he added.

Patients often come to Dr. Dahn and his colleague James Menzoian, M.D., also of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, when severe leg pain interferes with their lives. Drs. Dahn and Menzoian offer patients a range of treatments, including advanced, minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty, to restore healthy blood flow to the legs – and avoid amputation.

One of the newer procedures, the Silverhawk Plaque Excision System, uses a tiny rotating blade – the size of a grain of rice – that shaves away plaque from the artery walls then collects it in the nosecone of the device. The plaque is then compressed, similar to the way a trash compactor works, so it can be removed safely from the artery. Completely removing plaque from the artery helps to restore normal blood flow to the legs and feet and ultimately allows patients return to a more active lifestyle.

Are you at Risk?

Peripheral vascular disease is a common but under-diagnosed condition that vastly increases a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke and amputation. Some 100,000 Americans lose limbs every year because of this condition.

Along with smoking, risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. Dr. Dahn strongly advises men and women to talk to their doctor about their risk. Simple tests can determine its presence.

“We’ve come very far in our technology to treat vascular diseases but patients play a critical role, too. Quitting smoking, reducing fat intake, losing weight if necessary, and embracing regular exercise all have a direct and powerful impact on a person’s heart and vascular health,” Dr. Dahn added.

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