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Archive for May, 2011

The Curse of the Egyptian Mummy Was Atherosclerosis

May 19, 2011

While this Life Line Screening blog title sounds almost like a Scooby Doo cartoon mystery, it is actually the latest buzz in the cardiology field.

A recent preliminary study (Horus) used computerized tomography (CT) to scan the arteries of 52 mummies and found atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) was common in middle-aged and older Egyptians, a recent HealthDay article reports.

About half of the 52 mummies scanned had arterial calcification, a marker for atherosclerosis, and 3 mummies showed evidence of atherosclerosis. One of the 3, Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon, a noble of Thebes (Luxor), died in her 40s.

Although no known cause was given for the princess’ death, the article does quote Dr. Gregory S. Thomas, director of nuclear cardiology education at the University of California, Irvine, and co-principal investigator of the study as saying, “Today, she would have needed bypass surgery.”

Overall, what the study does mean is that what was thought to be a modern disease, artherosclerosis was actually present 3,500 years ago. Furthermore, it was present at a time when tobacco and trans-fat were unknown and at a time and place where the lifestyle was thought to be relatively healthy.

How Houghton Screening Event Will Help Patients Stay Ahead of Health Issues

May 18, 2011

Houghton health screeningA recent Life Line Screening event in Houghton, Michigan, sponsored by Asprius Keeweenaw Hospital, shows how residents and the medical community use both preventive health screenings along with regular checkups to monitor overall health.

From the affordability to the small amount of time it takes to get these simple, painless screenings that help folks stay ahead of health issues, the people of this Life Line Screening event in Houghton promoted this positive experience.

Watch the news video and/or read the article by Houghton bureau reporter, Ashley Palumbo, in full detail at Then, get proactive about your healthcare by visiting to register for your affordable, preventive screening today.

No Mammogram at 40? What Are You Risking?

May 9, 2011

Friday we posted that many women in their 40s are still insisting on mammograms. What about those who don’t?

A recent article in Bloomberg reports that, according to recent studies, breast cancer survival rates would be affected if women under 50 followed the November 2009 recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

If you will remember, the USPSTF had stated in 2009 that most women do not need mammograms before 50, which, as you can imagine, started a huge controversy with many people in the health community, including The American Cancer Society, weighing in against such advice.

In an effort to present actual evidence against such a suggestion, according to the Bloomberg article, three studies by radiologists were presented in two meetings: One by the American Society of Breast Surgeons in Washington and the other by the radiologist association, the American Roentgen Ray Society, in Chicago. Following are the teams, study information, and the findings:

STUDY 1: Paul Dale, a study researcher and chief of surgical oncology at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, and colleagues analyzed breast cancer cases in women younger than 50 from 1998 to 2008.

  • 94% of women diagnosed ages 40 to 49 diagnosed through a mammogram were considered disease free after 5 years compared to 78% of those who didn’t receive mammograms

STUDY 2: Donna Plecha, a radiologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, whose team analyzed biopsy results from Jan. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2009.

  • 71 of the 108 diagnosed breast cancer cases were detected through mammograms and 37 were detected by self discovery
  • 22 of the 108 diagnosed breast cancer cases were non-invasive cancer in the mammogram group compared to 1 in the group not screened
  • None of the mammogram cases advanced to late stage cancer compared to 17 among those not screened
  • More than half the mammogram cases had no cancer spreading to lymph nodes compared to 39% of those not screened

STUDY 3: Lara Hardesty, a radiologist at the University of Colorado in Aurora, let a team that compared the number of women who had mammograms nine months before and after the task force’s new guidelines.

  • A 16% reduction in the number of mammograms following the task force’s recommendations was reported

Hardesty’s team also conducted an e-mail survey of primary care physicians and gynecologists at her institution to see if they changed how they recommend mammograms to their patients since the Preventive Services Task Force advice. While the article did not provide details, it did cite her thoughts regarding early treatment:

The earlier we find cancer the more treatable it is and it’s my concern that, for some of them, we will be missing an opportunity for early diagnosis,” she said. “I realize I am a radiologist and this is my livelihood, but I am also the one who has to tell a young woman she has breast cancer.”

Poll Shows Women Still Want Mammograms at 40

May 6, 2011

Despite the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation in November 2009, that pushed the age of a women’s first mammogram from age 40 to age 50, women are choosing to get screened at 40. And, these women say, it is the appropriate age.

A recent Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll surveyed 1,083 U.S. women over 18 about mammograms and found that:

  • 57% of the women overall believe mammograms should start at age 40
  • 72% of the women who were in their 40s believed mammograms should start at age 40
  • 12% of the women overall agreed with the U.S. task force’s age 50 recommendation
  • 66% of the women in the 40s had not heard of the USPSTF’s recommendations
  • 77% of the women in their 40s have had at least one mammogram
  • 64% of the women in their 40s get a mammogram annually

 Other interesting findings in this survey:

  • 45% of the women surveyed believed that the task force’s recommendation was in an effort to reduce health care costs
  • 30% of the women surveyed believed that the task force’s recommendation was due to the amount of false positives
  • 11% of the women surveyed overall believed mammograms should start in their 20s
  • 29% of the women surveyed overall believed mammograms should start in their 30s

Comments from Harris Poll and Task Force Representatives

HealthDay also wrote an article that follows up this data citing a spokesperson for the Harris Poll, which may explain the findings:

“Breast cancer is something women are taught to look for at an early age through monthly self-exams, and the magic age of 40 had been when the first mammogram was supposed to happen,” said Regina A. Corso, senior vice president of public relations and youth research for the Harris Poll. “That obviously goes against recommendations that have recently come out, and which almost half of women [polled] believe are there because these experts are mainly interested in saving money by reducing health-care costs.”

However, also mentioned in the article were comments by Dr. Diana Petitti, former vice chair of the USPSTF and a professor of biomedical informatics at Arizona State University, who said that the USPSTF never recommended that “women shouldn’t get mammograms” but rather “women under 50 should decide whether or not to start having mammograms after having discussions with their physicians about their specific risk factors.”

Furthermore, Pettiti added that the task force’s recommendation did not have anything to do with health care costs the article states.

Also noted in this HealthDay piece was that The American Cancer Society has not changed their recommendation that annual mammograms for women should start at age 40.

What do you think?: Was the task force’s recommendation an effort to reduce health care costs?

Peggy Fleming Shares Personal Story to Help in PAD Coalition Efforts

May 5, 2011

In a May 4, 2011 press release, the Vascular Disease Foundation (VDF) announced that U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Peggy Fleming will be featured in a DVD teaching tool promotion from the Vascular Disease Foundation’s PAD Coalition and their partners, the American College of Physicians. This educational tool kit will be made available after a $5 donation. This promotion highlights May Stroke Awareness Month.

In the DVD, “A Guide to PAD,” Peggy will share her own experiences with heart disease, having lost both her father and her sister to the illness. The DVD, with accompanying booklet, is aimed to educate patients on peripheral arterial disease (PAD), its risk factors, symptoms and treatments. It will also include beneficial lifestyle changes.

Peggy Flemming and Life Life Screening

peggy fleming promoted vascular screeningPeggy Fleming has also been long-time supporter of Life Line Screening. See what she has to say about preventive screening services on our site: or on the Life Line Screening YouTube channel.

Ms. Fleming should definitely be commended for sharing her personal heartfelt story for the purpose of helping others.

Get your copy of the VDF PAD Coalition’s “A Guide to PAD” here:


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