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Thursday, September 6, 2012

the livingston parish News

Evaluating risky trees after the storm

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he passing of Isaac once again reminds us of the powerful forces of Mother Nature. Wind and rain are formidable foes and never act the same way twice. Trees are always an issue in a hurricane. They can help to provide a wind break that protects us but sometimes the trees break, causing a loss of utilities and property. I saw a lot of arborist activity just before the storm. Crews were busy trimming lawn trees and removing others right up to the day before the hurricane arrived. That tells me that people were re-evaluating their comfort level with their trees. After the storm, many more of us will be reevaluating our comfort

level and will be making decisions about our own risk tolerance with our trees. Sharpe’s First you Point should evaluate the trees Kenny Sharpe for damage that occurred during the storm. Sustained tropical storm force winds for days and lots of rain takes its toll. It is sort of like a good defensive football team. The constant pressure on the opposing offense really shows up in the fourth quarter after the constant physical pressure weakens the offensive line. Look for structure damage to the trees.

from the top. This will keep the limb from split-

Are they leaning now? If so, that might be a sign that you should remove them. Also look at the broken limbs and branches. You will need to get those “hangers� out of the tree. Even a small branch the size of a baseball bat will come down with enough force to kill you if it hits you. If you do plan to remove branches yourself, be very careful and only take out small limbs; those that are too high to easily reach or are 4 inches or greater should be left to the professionals. Proper technique for cutting branches would be to make an initial cut half way through the limb several inches back from the trunk and on the underside of the branch. Now go away from the trunk several more inches and cut through the branch

‘Many more

of us will be re-evaluating our comfort level and will be making decisions about our own risk tolerance with our trees.

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ting and pealing bark from the tree trunk and

causing more damage. The final cut should be made just outside of the branch collar, which is the swelling near the junction of either two limbs or a limb and the trunk. You never want to leave a stub when cutting limbs. Branches will grow from stubs and will form a weak attachment to the trunk and will provide potential problems as those branches get larger. Some branches that come down in the storm are inevitably going to peel back bark into the trunk. Where you have torn or stripped bark you can use a chisel or sharp knife to carefully trim the ragged edges of the tears. Be careful not to cut away any more tissue or bark than is necessary to smooth the rough edges of the tear.

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Smaller and narrower wounds heal faster. Finally look at how symmetrical the tree is now. Are the large branches fairly evenly distributed which gives good weight distribution? If the tree has lost a significant amount of limbs on one side of the tree and now all the weight is on one side, that tree is much more likely to topple in subsequent storms or rain events. For more tips of dealing with storm-damaged trees and storm recovery visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/ Isaac. Kenny Sharpe is county agent with the LSU Cooperative Extension Service in Livingston Parish. For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit www.lsuagcenter.com/ livingston.

Theismann: AAA screenings saved hundreds of lives By Mike Dowty The Livingston Parish News

BATON ROUGE — One million Americans walk around with a life-threatening medical condition and don’t know it. Designated by the acronym AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm), if left undiagnosed and untreated, the result can be sudden, massive internal bleeding with little hope of survival. It doesn’t have to be that way. Area residents who believe they could be at risk can call and sign up for free ultra-sound screenings at Pennington Biomedical Center on Saturday, Sept. 15. Pennington plans to schedule 300 patients for the painless, 10-minute exam that will determine the size of the abdominal aorta. Based on that measurement, doctors can counsel patients on their risks and options. The number to call to make an appointment is 225-763-2888. Anyone over 60 who has been a smoker at any time during his life or has a family history is considered in the high risk category, said Dr. London Guidry, a vascular surgeon with the Vascular Clinic of Baton Rouge. Other risk factors include clogged arteries, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bloodfilled bulge or ballooning

of the abdominal aorta, the artery that carries blood away from the heart to the lower part of the body. Over time, the bulge (known as an aneurysm) can become weak, and the force of normal blood pressure can cause the aorta to rupture. This can lead to severe pain, massive internal bleeding or even sudden death. Most patients with a ruptured aneurysm do not survive emergency treatment, making AAA the third leading cause of sudden death in men over 60. Former NFL quarterback and sports broadcaster Joe Theismann is a national spokesman for a campaign to raise awareness about the condition. He travels the country promoting free screenings like the one in Baton Rouge, doing hundreds of radio, TV and newspaper interviews a year to make his point. “We have done thou-

sands of these screenings and we have diagnosed hundreds of cases,� he said. “We have saved lives with these screenings, and that’s why it’s really important for people in Livingston Parish to get to Pennington. It’s simple, easy, takes about 10 minutes — and it’s free.� Five years ago Theismann’s father was diagnosed with AAA during a pre-operative exam in preparation for open heart surgery. Because of that, doctors were able to prevent him from becoming a casualty of AAA. The 63-year-old former NFL star now sets the example he tries to promote by having himself screened each year as part of his regular physical. It turns out he doesn’t have AAA. He notes that while men are at higher risk than women, ironically it is more difficult to persuade men to check on their health when they should. “We’re terrible when it comes to doctor’s

appointments,� he said. “We think if we ignore it, it will go away. It won’t.� Theismann said the last time he came to Baton Rouge, he learned in conversation that his driver’s brother had the condition. Virtually everywhere he goes, he meets people who have had close family members die of it. That’s what motivated Ascension Parish resident Sheila Arrington to found Aneurysm Outreach in 2000. She lost her father, grandfather and three uncles to the condition, but only discovered fully what it was after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal and doing some medical detective work. Over the years, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization has picked up support and partners from around the nation, culminating this year with the national sponsorship of Medtronic, Inc., and a merger with Theismann’s organization, findtheaaanswers. org.

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They find that spreading information is the most effective weapon. Once a person knows he is at risk, doctors can monitor the condition and the survival rates are high. “Once that tube grows by more than 5 1/2 centimeters, it grows exponentially,� Dr. Guidry said. “Ninety-five percent do well when it’s fixed. If it ruptures, the chance of survival is 10 percent.� The normal sized abdominal aorta is around 2.5 centimeters, she said. As it grows, the symptoms are few if any. They might include stomach or back pain, but by that time the risk of a rupture is probably imminent. If a person becomes a candidate for surgery, doctors have two options. The traditional method involves a large open incision through the belly with a synthetic graft. The patient is usually hospitalized for a week and requires about six weeks for full recovery. The second, newer method, similar to a

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laparoscopy, involves the insertion of a stent using needles to access the area being repaired through the groin. The patient generally goes home the next day and recovery is swift, perhaps within a few days. Arrington said the Pennington screening over a five-hour period will likely give either peace of mind or a heads-up to 300 individuals. The clinic will schedule 18 appointments every 15 minutes, with the first 36 appointments reserved for diabetics because the tests do require 8 hours of fasting before. To add incentive, promoters will give door prizes for men who participate. Arrington said in the past some women participants became disgruntled about the discrimination until they learned the reason: Men are five times more likely to have AAA and also five times less likely to take advantage of the free test that could save their lives.

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