Hearts are breaking across the country, and it has nothing to do with a disastrous Valentine’s Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 600,000 Americans die each year from heart disease, which is the top killer for men and women. Additionally, strokes claim 130,000 lives annually.
But, a 15-minute workup could make all the difference, as it did for Bessemer City resident Larry Stone. A preventative cardiovascular screen uses three non-invasive tests to provide a better understanding of a person’s health. CaroMont Heart at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia has been offering the service for about two years.
During the screening, a vascular surgery technician uses an ultrasound to look at the patient’s carotid arteries, which are the major arteries in the neck, and the abdominal aorta, the largest artery in the abdomen. Then, blood pressure cuffs are put on the legs to measure circulation, said Dr. Paul Kochupura, a vascular surgeon at CaroMont Heart. Twelve-hour fasting is recommended prior to the tests.
“It is a very fast, very focused examination done by highly trained individuals,” Kochupura said. “We’re just trying to heighten awareness of vascular disease in the community, (and the) services we provide for folks if they are concerned. It’s another avenue for addressing their health.”
Right after the workup, the person receives their results, which determine the risk for heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease, aneurismal disease and other health conditions. The patient will be referred for treatment if the data is abnormal or if diseases are revealed.
“We’ve done a couple hundred of these (screenings) here. We’ve had a few instances where we’ve screened folks and found people with significant blocks that required surgery,” Kochupura said. Stone, 57, was one of those patients. In January 2013, CaroMont’s
wellness bus offered screenings at Pharr Yarns, where he is a fitting room technician. He didn’t initially sign up because he wasn’t having any health problems, but then he changed his mind.
“I ended up being the worst one in the plant,” Stone said. “(The screening) definitely saved my life. I was 99 percent blocked.” The technician saw that Stone had a bad artery blockage on his left side and called to make him an appointment for further testing, which the technician pushed to be scheduled as soon as possible. A doctor saw him the next day, and he had surgery in March 2013. On Friday, Stone stopped by CaroMont Heart for his fourth sixmonth checkup, which included an ultrasound. He received a good report and will only have to be seen yearly from now on. He said he’s lost a little weight and eats healthier foods now.
In general, the highest-risk patients for heart issues are men older than 65 who have ever smoked, Kochupura said. However, earlier screening may be beneficial to those with a family history of disease. Stone said his brother died of an aneurism, and his mother had artery disease. After the results of his cardiovascular screen, he talked his other brother into being tested, too.
“When you get up in age, have that checked. It’s well worth the money,” Stone said, adding that he only had to cover his co-pay and his insurance took care of the rest.
People don’t have to go through their primary care physician to get the preventative tests done; they can just make an appointment with CaroMont Heart.
Kochupura said the results from the cardiovascular screening can encourage people to take their health more seriously.
“It’s useful for them to know that they should really consider adjusting their risk factors to improve their overall health,” he said. “I think it really is an opportunity for folks to participate in their health care. It causes them to put a focus on their health in terms of how they live their life.”
Want to get screened?
Call 704-671-7434 to make an appointment for a cardiovascular screening with CaroMont Heart. To bring CaroMont’s wellness bus to your business or group, call 704-834-3408.