Posts Tagged ‘carotid artery 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.
September 12, 2013
To treat a condition, it first needs to be detected.
That’s the message in a recent Wall Street Journal article titled “A Common Test to Screen for Stroke Risk is Under Review”. The article, written by Laura Landro, takes a look at the pros and cons of carotid artery ultrasound, like the one provided by Life Line Screening.
The 2007 recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force against screening patients without symptoms of disease has gained much attention in recent years. However, this article notes that since its establishment five years ago, stating that the evidence has become quite outdated. Because of this, the task force is now reviewing that recommendation.
A Living Example
Ken Goins, a Life Line Screening participant, is featured in the article. After participating in a carotid artery screening that revealed an 85 percent blockage in his left carotid artery, Goins underwent a carotid endarterectomy. This surgical procedure removed the plaque in his artery and restored normal blood flow to lower risk of stroke.
Goins, now 70, is a firm believer that the carotid artery screening saved his life.
“This is the best birthday present anyone could receive, which is their life,” Goins told his wife after his life-saving treatment.
USPSTF representative Dr. LeFevre points out in the article that the ultrasound testing for carotid artery disease itself is not dangerous. Rather, the concern lies in the follow-up process – a much larger, systemic problem of appropriate medical management.
For example, one of the primary concerns pertaining to carotid artery screenings is on the events following the screening that can “do more harm than good.” This includes follow-up testing involving an angiogram to confirm the findings of the screening. The angiogram uses a dye that can actually put patients at higher risk of stroke. Angiograms with large amounts of dye, however, are no longer commonly performed.
Furthermore, controversy has surrounded carotid artery screening because of the risks associated with surgery as a form of treatment. The surgery itself has been linked to a 3 percent rate of stroke or death within 30 days.
“Most patients who have a blockage don’t go on to surgery,” Dr. Andrew Manganaro, Life Line Screening’s chief medical officer, said in the article. “Rather, they are managed with drug therapy and lifestyle changes. A positive test in one of [our] screenings would generally lead to a second ultrasound, not directly to surgery.”
Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal now.