Dare to C.A.R.E

By Sandra Zunino

A silent killer, Cardiovascular Disease can strike without warning leaving devastating results, but thanks to the Dare to C.A.R.E. program, thousands of lives have been saved.

Founded in 2000 by John D. Martin, MD and Louise O. Hanson, CRNP of Cardiology Associates, PC, Dare to C.A.R.E is an Annapolis-based non-profit organization dedicated to informing the community about the threat and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one health problem in this country today.  One million Americans die of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders every year in the United States. Unfortunately, the majority of victims of this disease are unaware they are at even at risk until severe complications or death occurs and Kent Island resident Elaine Gairy could have been one of them.

It was fortuitous that Elaine signed her husband up for a free screening. While she had no risk factors, she also participated in the screening with surprising results. The screening discovered that the Carotid Artery in Elaine’s neck was 99 percent blocked. The news was so shocking; she wound up in the emergency room that night, but the diagnosis lead to live-saving surgery.

Not only did Elaine’s story become the subject of medical articles, she started volunteering for the program and is now the Dare to C.A.R.E. Manager. “If it were not for that program, I probably would have had a stroke by now,” she says. “It literally saved my life.”

Cardiovascular disease is a systemic disease that affects the heart and arteries in the body.
C.A.R.E. stands for Carotid Artery Disease (CAD), Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms, Renal Artery Stenosis and Extremity Artery. CAD affects the heart while peripheral arterial disease (PAD) involves other arteries in the body such as arms, legs, kidneys, intestines and the brain.

Dare to C.A.R.E. offers free screenings for these diseases by utilizing a simple, non-invasive ultrasound procedure. Coupled with lectures from cardiovascular specialists and educational materials, Dare has screened almost 27,000 people, according to Elaine, and almost half showed signs of CVD while 10 percent learned they needed life-saving treatment. “Every day we save someone’s life,” says Elaine.

High risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking or a family history of cardiovascular disease. Anyone over 60 is also a candidate. As simple and reliable as these tests are, they are not normally part of a regular physical. If the screening reveals a critical blockage, the patient is referred to his or her primary care physician for further treatment.

Screenings are performed by trained technicians and are available by appointment at the Kent Island Anne Arundel Medical Center every Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. “Our goal is that every one in the U.S. who is at risk can get a free screening,” says Elaine.

The program is funded by donations and survives on volunteer help for filing reports placing reminder calls, etc. “We have a nice group of volunteers who believe in what we do and are helping us,” says Elaine. “We’re doing a great thing, and we’re determined not to let it end.”

For more information on Dare to C.A.R.E. visit www.daretocare.us or call 410-573-9483 to schedule a screening.