Author: Western Vascular Institute

Endovascular surgery

Endovascular surgery, also known as endovascular therapy or intervention, is a minimally invasive procedure performed to treat various conditions within blood vessels, typically in the arteries and veins. Unlike traditional open surgery, which requires large incisions, endovascular surgery involves accessing the affected blood vessels through small punctures or incisions.

What conditions do healthcare providers treat with endovascular surgery?

Atherosclerosis:

It is a condition characterized by the buildup of plaque within the arteries, narrowing the vessel and obstructing blood flow. Endovascular procedures like angioplasty and stenting can be performed to open up the blocked or narrowed arteries and restore blood flow.

Aneurysms:

An aneurysm is a weakened area in the blood vessel wall that bulges or balloons out. Endovascular techniques, such as endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) or endovascular coiling, can be used to reinforce the weakened vessel wall or fill the aneurysm with coils to prevent rupture.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD):

PAD occurs when arteries supplying blood to the limbs (usually the legs) become narrowed or blocked. Endovascular procedures like angioplasty, atherectomy, or stenting can be performed to improve blood flow and relieve symptoms.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT):

DVT is the formation of blood clots in the deep veins, typically in the legs. Endovascular techniques, such as catheter-directed thrombolysis or thrombectomy, can be used to dissolve or remove the blood clot and restore normal blood flow.

Varicose veins:

Endovascular treatments like endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can be used to close off and seal malfunctioning varicose veins, redirecting blood flow to healthier veins.

Endovascular surgery offers several advantages over traditional open surgery, including smaller incisions, reduced blood loss, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery times, and fewer complications. However, not all conditions can be treated using endovascular techniques, and the suitability of the procedure depends on the specific case and the patient’s overall health. It is essential to consult with a vascular surgeon to determine the most appropriate treatment approach.

How common is vascular disease?

According to recent data, there are approximately 200 million people affected by peripheral artery disease (PAD), one of the most common types of vascular disease. In the United States alone, PAD affects around 8 to 12 million people, with the incidence rising with age. Additionally, another prevalent vascular condition is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which affects an estimated 900,000 individuals in the United States annually. When it comes to aortic aneurysms, statistics indicate that around 1.5 million people worldwide are living with this condition, with men over the age of 65 being particularly susceptible. These numbers show how common vascular disease is and emphasize the importance of awareness, early detection, and timely treatment to improve patient outcomes.

What happens before endovascular surgery?

During an endovascular procedure, a vascular surgeon uses imaging guidance, such as fluoroscopy or ultrasound, to navigate thin, flexible catheters and medical instruments through the blood vessels to the targeted site. These instruments can be used for diagnostic purposes, as well as for therapeutic interventions.

What happens after endovascular surgery?

After your endovascular surgery, it’s important to continue with follow-up care to ensure your blood vessels heal properly. Before you leave the hospital, your healthcare provider will discuss your post-surgical plan with you. This plan includes regular visits to see your healthcare provider and undergo imaging tests. These visits are designed to check how your blood vessels are healing. Your healthcare provider will review the results of the imaging tests to make sure everything is progressing well. By following through with these follow-up visits and tests, you and your healthcare team can keep a close eye on your recovery and address any issues that may arise, leading to a successful outcome after your endovascular surgery.

Wound Care

Wound Care and the Role of a Vascular Surgeon

Introduction:

Wound care is a critical aspect of healthcare, especially for individuals with underlying vascular conditions. Vascular surgeons play a crucial role in managing and treating wounds, particularly those related to compromised blood flow. In this section, we will explore the significance of wound care and how vascular surgeons contribute to this field.

Understanding Wound Care:

Wounds can occur due to various reasons, such as injuries, surgical procedures, or underlying health conditions. Proper wound care involves a comprehensive approach to promote healing, prevent infections, and minimize complications. Key aspects of wound care include:

Cleaning and Dressing:

Thoroughly cleaning the wound and applying appropriate dressings help create a clean environment for healing. Dressings may vary depending on the type and severity of the wound.

Infection Prevention:

Preventing infection is crucial for successful wound healing. This involves maintaining proper hygiene, using sterile techniques, and administering antibiotics when necessary.

Debridement:

In some cases, removing dead or infected tissue from the wound (debridement) is necessary to promote healing and prevent the spread of infection.

Moisture Control:

Managing the moisture level of the wound is important. Some wounds may require moisture to aid in healing, while others may benefit from dry environments. Healthcare professionals assess each wound’s needs and employ appropriate techniques.

Offloading and Pressure Redistribution:

For wounds caused by pressure, such as pressure ulcers, offloading techniques and specialized devices are used to relieve pressure on affected areas and promote healing.

The Role of a Vascular Surgeon in Wound Care:

Vascular surgeons play a vital role in wound care, particularly when wounds are associated with vascular conditions. Here’s how they contribute:

Diagnosis and Assessment:

Vascular surgeons assess wounds in the context of a patient’s vascular health. They examine blood flow, identify potential circulation issues, and determine if underlying vascular conditions contribute to delayed wound healing.

Vascular Interventions:

In cases where compromised blood flow contributes to poor wound healing, vascular surgeons may perform interventions to restore circulation. This may involve procedures such as angioplasty, stent placement, or bypass surgeries to improve blood flow to the affected area.

Collaborative Care:

Vascular surgeons work closely with other healthcare professionals involved in wound care, such as wound care nurses, plastic surgeons, and infectious disease specialists. They provide expertise on vascular aspects and ensure a comprehensive approach to wound management.

Long-Term Management:

Vascular surgeons not only address the immediate wound care needs but also focus on long-term management. They develop personalized treatment plans to optimize vascular health, prevent future wounds, and promote overall well-being.

Conclusion:

Wound care is a critical aspect of healthcare, and vascular surgeons play a crucial role, especially when wounds are associated with vascular conditions. By addressing underlying circulation issues, vascular surgeons contribute to improved wound healing and overall patient outcomes. Their expertise in diagnosing, treating, and managing vascular conditions ensures comprehensive and effective wound care. Collaborative efforts among healthcare professionals involved in wound care result in holistic approaches tailored to individual patient needs. If you have wounds associated with vascular conditions, consulting with a vascular surgeon can provide valuable insights and appropriate interventions for optimal wound healing and vascular health.

 

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Why are vascular ultrasounds necessary?

Why are vascular ultrasounds necessary?

 

Detailed Vascular Assessment:

A vascular ultrasound study is necessary because it provides a non-invasive and painless way to evaluate your blood vessels. It helps identify blockages, narrowing, or abnormalities in the arteries and veins throughout your body. This detailed assessment aids in diagnosing various vascular conditions.

Early Detection of Problems:

By undergoing a vascular ultrasound study, potential issues can be detected at an early stage. Early detection allows for prompt intervention and treatment, helping prevent further complications and ensuring better outcomes.

Monitoring Vascular Health:

For individuals with existing vascular conditions, regular ultrasound studies are essential for monitoring disease progression and treatment effectiveness. This consistent monitoring enables vascular surgeons to make informed decisions and adjust treatment plans as needed.

Avoiding Invasive Procedures:

In many cases, a vascular ultrasound study can provide valuable information without the need for invasive procedures. It reduces the need for exploratory surgeries, minimizing risks, discomfort, and recovery time.

Customized Treatment Plans:

The results of a vascular ultrasound study help vascular surgeons develop personalized treatment plans tailored to your specific needs. This individualized approach ensures that you receive the most appropriate interventions, medications, or lifestyle modifications for optimal vascular health.

Preventing Serious Complications:

Conditions like deep vein thrombosis, arterial stenosis, aneurysms, and peripheral artery disease can have severe consequences if left untreated. A vascular ultrasound study aids in early identification, allowing for timely interventions to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

Empowering Patient Education:

Undergoing a vascular ultrasound study gives you a clearer understanding of your vascular health. By seeing the images and discussing the findings with your vascular surgeon, you can actively participate in your care, make informed decisions, and take proactive steps toward better vascular wellness.

Schedule Your Vascular Ultrasound Study:

If you have risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, or a family history of vascular disease, or if you’re experiencing symptoms like leg pain or swelling, it’s crucial to discuss the possibility of a vascular ultrasound study with your vascular surgeon. Don’t delay—early detection and prevention are key!

 

What is Claudication?

Claudication is a medical condition that affects many individuals, causing discomfort and limitations in daily activities. If you experience pain or cramping in your legs during physical exertion, you might be dealing with claudication. In this blog post, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this condition to help you better understand and manage it.

Causes of Claudication:

The primary cause of claudication is atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Plaque is composed of cholesterol, fat, and other substances that adhere to the arterial walls, causing them to narrow. This narrowing restricts blood flow and triggers symptoms of claudication.

Claudication is a symptom commonly associated with peripheral artery disease (PAD), which occurs when there is a narrowing or blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the legs. The reduced blood flow deprives the muscles of oxygen and nutrients, leading to pain, cramping, or fatigue in the affected leg muscles during activities such as walking or exercising.

Other Potential Causes of Claudication

Blood clots:

Blood clots can obstruct blood flow in the arteries, leading to claudication symptoms.

Inflammation:

Inflammatory conditions such as vasculitis can cause damage to the blood vessels and contribute to claudication.

Structural abnormalities:

Rarely, structural abnormalities in the blood vessels or muscles can lead to claudication.

Symptoms of Claudication:

The hallmark symptom of claudication is leg pain or cramping that typically occurs during physical activity and subsides with rest.

Common characteristics of claudication include:

  • Pain, cramping, or fatigue in the calf muscles, thighs, or buttocks.
  • Discomfort that worsens with activity and improves with rest.
  • Numbness or weakness in the affected leg(s).
  • Coldness or paleness in the leg(s).

How Is Claudication Diagnosed and Treated:

If you suspect claudication, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. They will review your medical history, conduct a physical examination, and may recommend additional tests, such as:

Ankle-brachial index (ABI):

Measures the blood pressure in the ankle and arm to assess blood flow in the legs.
Doppler ultrasound: Uses sound waves to evaluate blood flow in the arteries.
Angiography: Involves injecting a contrast dye into the blood vessels to visualize any blockages or narrowing.
Treatment for claudication aims to manage symptoms, improve circulation, and prevent further complications. Common approaches include:

Lifestyle modifications:

Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and a balanced diet can improve symptoms and overall vascular health.

Medications:

Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage risk factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood clot prevention.

Exercise therapy:

Supervised exercise programs that gradually increase physical activity can improve walking distance and decrease symptoms.

Endovascular procedures:

In some cases, minimally invasive procedures like angioplasty or stenting may be performed to restore blood flow in the affected arteries.

Surgery:

Severe cases of claudication that do not respond to other treatments may require surgical interventions, such as bypass grafting, to reroute blood flow around the blocked arteries.

Claudication can significantly impact the quality of life of individuals affected by peripheral artery disease. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking timely medical attention is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. With lifestyle modifications, medication, exercise therapy, and, in some cases, medical procedures, claudication symptoms can be effectively managed, allowing individuals to lead a more

Why should patients focus on Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Why should patients focus on Peripheral Vascular Disease?

 

Beyond the Heart:

Why Patients Should Focus on Peripheral Vascular Disease. When it comes to cardiovascular health, heart disease often takes the spotlight. However, there is another crucial condition that deserves our attention: Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD). While heart disease affects the arteries supplying blood to the heart, PVD affects the arteries outside the heart, particularly those that supply blood to the limbs. It’s important for patients to understand the significance of PVD and why it should be on their radar alongside heart disease. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why patients should focus on PVD in addition to heart disease.

Prevalence and Risk Factors:

PVD is more common than many people realize. It affects millions of individuals worldwide, particularly those over the age of 50. The risk factors for PVD overlap with those of heart disease, including smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. By focusing on PVD, patients can address these risk factors and make positive changes to improve their overall vascular health.

Impact on Quality of Life:

Peripheral Vascular Disease can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life. The reduced blood flow to the limbs can cause symptoms such as leg pain, cramping, numbness, and weakness. These symptoms can make it difficult to walk, engage in physical activities, and carry out daily tasks. By addressing PVD, patients can seek appropriate treatment to alleviate these symptoms and regain their mobility and independence.

Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Events:

PVD is not an isolated condition. It is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes. The same underlying process of atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries, occurs in both PVD and heart disease. By managing PVD and its risk factors, patients can potentially reduce their overall cardiovascular risk and improve their long-term health outcomes.

Early Detection and Prevention:

Detecting PVD at an early stage is crucial for effective management. Unfortunately, PVD often goes undiagnosed or overlooked due to its subtle symptoms. However, routine screenings and awareness can lead to early detection and intervention. By focusing on PVD, patients can work closely with their healthcare providers to identify the condition early, initiate appropriate treatments, and prevent its progression.

Holistic Approach to Vascular Health:

Taking a comprehensive approach to vascular health means addressing both heart disease and PVD. By understanding the connections between the two and recognizing the importance of overall vascular wellness, patients can adopt a proactive mindset. This includes making lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking, adopting a heart-healthy diet, managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and engaging in regular physical activity. It’s about viewing the body’s entire vascular system as interconnected and deserves equal attention.

Peripheral Vascular Disease should not be overlooked or overshadowed by heart disease. By focusing on PVD alongside heart health, patients can proactively manage their vascular well-being, improve their quality of life, and reduce their risk of cardiovascular events. Awareness, early detection, and a comprehensive approach to vascular health are essential for optimal long-term outcomes. Remember, your limbs deserve the same level of care as your heart. Take action today for a healthier vascular future.

 

PAD Checklist

References:

Society for Vascular Surgery: Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Western Vascular Institute: What Is Peripheral Arterial Disease?
Mayo Clinic: Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Why do I need a vascular surgeon?

Why do I need a vascular surgeon?

 

Vascular Disease:

If you have been diagnosed with vascular diseases such as peripheral artery disease (PAD), deep vein thrombosis (DVT), varicose veins, aneurysms, or carotid artery disease, a vascular surgeon specializes in the treatment of these conditions.

Circulation Problems:

If you experience symptoms related to poor blood circulation, such as leg pain or cramping during walking or at rest, non-healing wounds or ulcers, or coldness in your extremities, a vascular surgeon can evaluate and provide appropriate treatment options.

Vascular Trauma:

In cases of traumatic injuries that involve blood vessels, such as a severe laceration or damage to arteries or veins, a vascular surgeon can perform surgical procedures to repair and restore blood flow.

Aortic Aneurysm:

If you have an abdominal or thoracic aortic aneurysm, which is a weakened and bulging area in the aorta, the main blood vessel in your body, a vascular surgeon may perform surgery to repair or replace the affected segment to prevent the risk of rupture.

Endovascular Procedures:

Vascular surgeons are trained in minimally invasive endovascular techniques, such as angioplasty, stenting, and embolization, to treat various vascular conditions. These procedures involve using catheters and imaging guidance to access and treat the affected blood vessels from within.

Vascular Access:

If you require long-term dialysis, a vascular surgeon can create and manage vascular access points, such as arteriovenous fistulas or grafts, to allow repeated access to your blood vessels.

With many years of extensive vascular experience, Western Vascular Institute’s providers are able to provide unparalleled diagnosis & management for all venous & vascular diseases as well as exceptional patient care.

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Stroke Awareness & Prevention

Stroke Awareness & Prevention

 

Introduction:

A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain cells of oxygen and nutrients. This can cause brain cells to die, leading to serious and potentially life-threatening consequences. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, types, and treatment options available for stroke.

Causes:

Stroke can be caused by a variety of factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and heart disease. Other risk factors include age, family history, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Some strokes occur spontaneously without any apparent cause, while others are the result of a specific event, such as a blood clot or bleeding in the brain.

Symptoms:

The symptoms of stroke can vary depending on the type of stroke and which part of the brain is affected. Some of the most common symptoms include sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech; sudden vision loss in one or both eyes; sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Types:

There are two main types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot or plaque buildup in an artery blocks blood flow to the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding in the brain. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a mini-stroke that occurs when blood flow to the brain is temporarily interrupted. TIAs usually last only a few minutes and do not cause permanent brain damage, but they are a warning sign of a possible future stroke.

Treatment:

A stroke is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is crucial to minimize brain damage and prevent further complications. Treatment options depend on the type of stroke and may include medications to dissolve blood clots or lower blood pressure, surgery to remove blood clots or repair a ruptured blood vessel, and rehabilitation to regain lost functions and prevent future strokes.

Prevention:

Preventing stroke involves making lifestyle changes to reduce risk factors, such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular checkups with a healthcare provider can also help detect and manage risk factors before they lead to a stroke.

Conclusion:

A stroke is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. By understanding the causes, symptoms, types, and treatment options available for stroke, you can take steps to prevent stroke and seek prompt treatment if you or someone you know experiences a stroke. With prompt medical attention and appropriate treatment, many people are able to recover from stroke and regain lost functions, highlighting the importance of awareness and education about this medical condition.

What is Peripheral Vascular Disease?

What is Peripheral Vascular Disease?

 

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is a condition that affects the blood vessels outside of the heart and brain, primarily in the legs and feet. PVD is caused by narrowed or blocked blood vessels, which can lead to reduced blood flow to the limbs. This can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, cramping, and numbness in the legs, especially during physical activity.

Causes:

The most common cause of PVD is atherosclerosis, a condition where fatty deposits (plaques) build up in the arteries, narrowing the blood vessels and restricting blood flow. Other factors that can contribute to PVD include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. In rare cases, PVD can also be caused by a blood clot or inflammation of the blood vessels.

Symptoms:

The symptoms of PVD can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some people may experience no symptoms at all, while others may experience pain or discomfort in the legs, especially during physical activity. Other symptoms may include numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs; coldness in the feet or legs; and slow healing of wounds or sores on the feet or legs.

Diagnosis:

To diagnose PVD, your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and may order diagnostic tests such as an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test, which compares blood pressure readings in the arms and legs, or an ultrasound or angiogram to visualize the blood vessels in the affected area.

Treatment:

The goal of treatment for PVD is to improve blood flow and manage symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage PVD and reduce the risk of complications. Medications such as blood thinners or cholesterol-lowering drugs may also be prescribed to manage PVD. In some cases, minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty or stenting may be recommended to open up narrowed or blocked blood vessels.

Prevention:

Preventing PVD involves making lifestyle changes to reduce risk factors, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and managing conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular checkups with a vascular surgeon can also help detect and manage risk factors before they lead to PVD.

Conclusion:

Peripheral Vascular Disease is a common condition that can cause pain and discomfort in the legs and feet. By understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options available for PVD, you can take steps to manage this condition and improve your overall health. Don’t suffer in silence – talk to your vascular surgeon today to learn more about your options for managing PVD.

What is Vascular Surgery?

What is Vascular Surgery?

Vascular surgery is a surgical specialty that deals with diseases of the blood vessels. It is a relatively new specialty, having been founded in the early 1970s. The first residency program was started at the University of Minnesota in 1973.

The specialty of vascular surgery is divided into two main branches: open surgery and endovascular surgery.

Open surgery is the traditional form of surgery, where the surgeon makes a large incision in the patient’s body in order to access the blood vessels. Endovascular surgery is a newer form of surgery that uses tiny instruments and a camera to access the blood vessels through small incisions.

Vascular surgery is a highly specialized field, and there are only a few hundred surgeons in the United States who specialize in it. The majority of vascular surgeons are based in large metropolitan areas, and there are few rural areas that have vascular surgeons.

 Treating a variety of diseases and conditions, including:

Vascular surgery is a life-saving procedure in many cases. For example, an aortic aneurysm is a life-threatening condition that can lead to a ruptured aorta. If the aneurysm is detected early, it can be treated with surgery. It is a highly specialized field, and patients should seek out a vascular surgeon who is experienced in treating the specific condition that they have.

Amputation Prevention

Amputation Prevention: Empowering Lives, Preserving Limbs

Amputation is a life-altering event that can have profound physical, emotional, and social implications. However, in many cases, amputation can be prevented with timely intervention, proactive healthcare, and patient education. Let’s explore the importance of amputation prevention and the strategies that can make a significant difference in preserving limbs and improving quality of life.

Early Detection and Treatment:

One of the key factors in amputation prevention is early detection and prompt treatment of underlying conditions that can lead to limb-threatening complications. This includes conditions such as peripheral artery disease (PAD), diabetic foot ulcers, infections, and severe trauma. Regular check-ups, routine screenings, and proactive management of chronic diseases are vital in identifying potential risks early on.

Comprehensive Wound Care:

Effective wound care is critical in preventing infections and promoting healing, particularly in individuals with chronic wounds or ulcers. Prompt attention to any cuts, sores, or wounds, especially in high-risk populations such as diabetic patients, can significantly reduce the risk of complications that may necessitate amputation. This involves proper cleaning, dressing, and close monitoring of wounds, along with the use of advanced wound care techniques and therapies.

Managing Underlying Conditions:

Managing underlying conditions that contribute to limb-threatening complications is crucial in amputation prevention. For individuals with diabetes, maintaining optimal blood sugar control is essential to prevent peripheral nerve damage and impaired circulation. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet, can help manage conditions like PAD and reduce the risk of amputation.

Multidisciplinary Care and Patient Education:

Collaboration among healthcare professionals from various specialties is paramount in preventing amputation. A multidisciplinary approach involving vascular surgeons, podiatrists, wound care specialists, physical therapists, and other relevant healthcare providers can offer comprehensive care tailored to individual needs. Patient education plays a vital role in empowering individuals to understand their conditions, recognize warning signs, and actively participate in their own care. Education on proper foot care, self-examination techniques, and lifestyle modifications can significantly contribute to preventing complications.

Prosthetics, Rehabilitation, and Support:

In cases where amputation is unavoidable, comprehensive rehabilitation services and access to quality prosthetics play a crucial role in restoring functionality and improving the overall quality of life for individuals. Adequate support networks, including counseling services and peer support groups, can help individuals navigate the emotional and social challenges associated with limb loss.

Amputation is not always an inevitable outcome.

Through proactive measures, early intervention, and comprehensive care, we can significantly reduce the number of amputations and empower individuals to live fulfilling lives with all their limbs intact. Together, let’s promote amputation prevention, raise awareness, and make a positive impact on the lives of countless individuals.