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Archive for October, 2013

Life Line Screening Customer Explains Why She is a Fan of Life Line Screening

October 31, 2013

Grace Carswell (pictured) formerly underwent the carotid artery screening provided by Life Line Screening. The screening uses noninvasive ultrasound technology to create images of the carotid arteries and measure blood flow through them. The purpose is to detect potential plaque buildup.

“I have been a fan of Life Line Screening since I heard about [it] awhile back,” said Carswell in a statement. “I think it is the bargain of the century and can be a lifesaver for so many.”

Because of this personal experience, Grace was dismayed by a recent Kaiser Health News story that aired on NPR.

The story focused on community-based screening and cast a negative light on the services of Life Line Screening. The story included a number of misrepresented facts and misleading assertions, and Life Line Screening Reviewing Physician Lisa Sheppard, MD, set the record straight in a recent blog post titled “Community-Based Screenings: An Accurate and Affordable Option for Preventive Health.”

“The argument that screenings would lead to a greater likelihood of a stroke because a patient who discovered they were at risk would then initiate a conversation with their physician about the best treatment approach, and may actually be treated, sells short the physician, the patient and the fundamental value of prevention,” Sheppard said in the post.

Carswell immediately posted on Facebook and the LLS blog, supporting Dr. Sheppard, and further explaining her opinion.

“This article says you can do more harm than good by checking for plaque in the arteries. I cannot believe they tell you not to check for this,” she said. “I did and [they] found a mild buildup, so now I changed my diet to prevent further buildup and hopefully reverse it.”

One of the points in the Kaiser Health News article mentioned that many of the tests performed by Life Line Screening are included on a list of procedures healthy people should avoid, as advised by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

“Don’t screen on healthy people? Why would you wait until you are near death?” Carswell commented. “Life Line Screenings are a very inexpensive (less than a tenth of the cost in a hospital for the same thing) way to get this information which could be life-saving if you use the results to change your lifestyle,” she added.

Are you a former Life Line Screening customer? What was your screening experience like? Please share with us in the comments below.




Study: Younger Women May Benefit from Mammograms

October 30, 2013

Current recommendations for breast cancer screenings by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggest that women begin breast cancer screening every other year starting at age 50. According to the Chicago Tribune, however, a new study is showing that earlier screening may prove beneficial.

The study reviewed the deaths of 609 women who died from breast cancer. Results showed that half of the women were diagnosed before the age of 50 and over 70 percent of them had not previously been screened. Of all of the women who died, 30 percent occurred in women who were diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 49. Earlier screenings and screening more often would have detected more of these cancers and could have prevented some of the deaths.

Dr. Blake Cady, a professor emeritus of surgery at Harvard Medical School suggests that women “should be (screening) about every year in the 40s”. These findings are in line with the American Cancer Society’s current recommendation of annual mammograms beginning at age 40 for as long as a woman is in good health.

 

Benefits of Early Detection

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancers that are causing symptoms tend to be greater in size and have a higher probability of having spread outside the original area. Detecting cancers before they cause problems usually means they are smaller and more easily treated.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has accumulated data from several studies and organizations and has shown that some suggest that the benefits for screening younger women may not be as great as screenings for women who are over the age of 50. Younger women tend to have denser breast tissue and this can lead to abnormal findings in mammograms which may then lead to more invasive tests and procedures. However, most major health organizations are now encouraging earlier screenings as even modest increases in survival outweigh the risks.

Women should have a discussion with their doctors to determine if early screening is right for them. Several risk factors, including family history, drinking habits, or history of smoking, can increase the benefits of early screening for women who are at greater risk. Discussing these risk factors and benefits with a physician can help determine the best path to take.




Community-Based Screening: An Accurate and Affordable Option for Preventive Health

October 28, 2013

 

A recent story written by Kaiser Health News which appeared as a segment on National Public Radio and on their website focused on the community screening industry, and Life Line Screening in particular. While our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Andrew Manganaro and the perspective of one customer are represented in the story, it also included a number of misleading assertions and misrepresented facts.

It is important to first note that Life Line Screening has collected the largest database of screening results of its kind, which we are making available to academic researchers for free to help add to the evidence-base around the utility of screening and better understanding of vascular disease. This research collaboration has resulted in numerous academic publications. In fact, our focus is on using academic means, excellent clinical quality and clear patient education to help move individuals, and the nation’s conversation, towards better outcomes through preventive health. Our work is based on rigorous protocols and customer follow-up, and our team is comprised of noted clinical experts, reviewing physicians and a celebrated Chief Medical Officer. To imply otherwise or to suggest that we are irresponsibly promoting unnecessary screening is simply wrong.

The most concerning element of the article is a statement from a representative of the AAFP that following a carotid artery screening, “the patient is more likely actually to have a stroke because of the screening and subsequent testing and possible surgery than if they’d never been screened at all.”

There is no data or studies to support this claim. Ultrasound is a non-invasive, no-radiation, medically-accepted technology used widely to perform examinations, including in emergency rooms by the bedside, and in hospitals across the country that offer screenings themselves. The argument that screenings would lead to a greater likelihood of a stroke because a patient who discovered they were at risk would then initiate a conversation with their physician about the best treatment approach, and may actually be treated, sells short the physician, the patient and the fundamental value of prevention. Indeed, sometimes the “watchful waiting” described in the article may be the best course of action once the patient has consulted their physician – but that doesn’t mean that the screening wasn’t valuable or accurate, since the patient would likely not have known they even had a condition or risk factor worthy of “watching” otherwise.

In the words of noted physician, Matthew Mintz, Associate Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, with whom we consulted, “As a point of clarification, screening does not make it more likely that a person will have a stroke. There is some concern that the follow-up testing or possible surgery could cause a stroke, but newer, modern methods of follow-up and the expertise of an experienced surgeon make this possibility far less likely than older research assumed. Learning that you have an early stage problem means you can make decisions that may help you live longer, live healthier and be in control of your health. This is part of the conversation you should have with your doctor, and you may find that screening is an excellent choice if you have risk factors and are interested in learning what is going on inside of your body.”

The story also alleges that “many of the findings are false positives.” This is simply not the case. At Life Line Screening, we are highly committed to accuracy and quality, and we have extensive experience delivering on this commitment – as we have provided more than 8 million screenings (as the article notes).

In fact, we have conducted a side-by-side audit study in the U.K. that found excellent accuracy when correlating our findings to the standard criteria used by United Kingdom hospital vascular and radiology departments. We are also in the process of completing additional research in the U.S, and we are confident that these findings will further support the accuracy of our screenings.

The piece suggests that Life Line Screening tests “healthy people.” In fact, we screen based upon recognized appropriate risk factors. The vast majority of our clients have one or more notable risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, or diabetes, and the average age of our patients is 62, well within a clear risk category. That’s far from the characterization of broadly screening healthy people, and in contrast, supports that our screenings offer a valued healthcare service for today’s seniors – many of whom face significant access to care challenges and need or prefer options outside the traditional system. When a patient comes to our screenings, they learn about healthy behaviors and risk factors, become more educated, more knowledgeable, and hopefully more empowered to take care of their health.

Finally, the article includes the opinion that, “when information comes in the form of an advertisement or promotion, regardless of the source, be skeptical.” The reality is that doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and even dentists all advertise their services. Many of these organizations or businesses are also “for profit.” Does that mean that we should assume that any healthcare service that invests in raising awareness of its offerings should be discounted or considered warily? If so, many of us would likely have to go out and find new providers for all our health needs. Indeed, as a for-profit, Life Line Screening is carefully transparent about its prices and services, contrary to most peoples’ experiences with healthcare billing.

Hopefully this information and data help clarify some of the information presented in this recent story. If you have any further questions about Life Line Screening and the services the company provides, feel free to reach out to Joelle Reizes, the company’s Global Communications Director, at JReizes@llsa.com.

 




Your Weekly Inspiration: Feel With Your Heart

October 28, 2013

At the end of your life, what’s going to stand out in your memories? The things you had? Or the things you felt?

Many surveys have been conducted in recent years on the biggest regrets among seniors.  Some of the results include:

  • Working too much at the expense of family and friends.
  • Not staying in touch with loved ones.
  • Worrying too much.
  • Not having self-confidence.
  • Not spending enough time (trips, outings) with loved ones.
  • Taking life too seriously.

 These regrets have one thing in common: they all have to do with things you feel with your heart. Not material things. Not what you have.

At the end of it all, it really is true: the best and most beautiful things must be felt with the heart.

best things must be felt with the heart

 




Clinical Breast Exam vs. Mammogram: Which is Better?

October 25, 2013

Many women want to know the best way to figure out their breast health and breast cancer risk while remaining mindful of costs. Both regular breast exams and mammograms are important tools in the early detection of breast cancer.

 

Clinical Breast Exam (CBE)

A clinical breast exam, also known as CBE, is performed by a medical professional such as a nurse, doctor, nurse practitioner of physician assistant. During the test, the patient will be undressed above their waist. The healthcare professional will then do the following:

  • Visually inspect the breasts for areas where the size or shape appears to be abnormal or irregular
  • Look for any changes around the patient’s nipples
  • Using their fingers the medical professional will gently feel for areas of abnormality.

Portions of the exam may be uncomfortable, but the test should not be painful. The CBE is a good opportunity to learn the process of doing a self-exam. Self-exams are an excellent method of breast cancer screening. By performing a self-exam every month, women are better equipped to notice a change or catch abnormalities in their breasts early on.

 

Mammograms

Mammograms are conducted by X-raying the breast. During the mammogram, the breast is placed between two plates that spread the tissue to allow for better imaging. Images are taken from two different angles to provide the best possible images. This process is done on both breasts. During the mammogram:

  • The patient is required to disrobe above the waist
  • The technician will position your breast on the lower plate
  • When the images are taken, the upper plate will compress your breast for a brief time to spread the tissue to get the best images.

Mammograms can be performed on most women including those who:

  • Have large breasts
  • Are breast feeding
  • Have breast implants

The entire mammogram takes about 20 minutes to complete. Results of the mammogram are provided after the X-rays are reviewed by a physician. Mammograms may be uncomfortable, but they are excellent methods for detecting various stages of breast cancer or breast abnormalities.

 

Which Screening Method is Best?

According to the American Cancer Society, women over age 40 should have mammograms on an annual basis. For those women under age 40, with a normal breast cancer risk, with no symptoms of breast cancer, a CBE every three years is sufficient.
For women with above average breast cancer risk, breast cancer screening via mammogram and MRI may be recommended. Women should talk to their doctors to determine the best screening method for them.

Life Line Screening offers many resources on breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including information on the Breast Cancer Screening Debate, Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer, and Why Some Women Ignore their Breast Cancer Risk.




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