Test that Found Risk of Stroke Caught Kentucky Woman by Surprise
Bev Reed didn't think she had any reason to be concerned about having a stroke. She was not overweight, didn't have high blood pressure, and her cholesterol wasn't particularly high. Nor did strokes run in her family...
But after visiting a Life Line Screening in the winter of 2007, she found out she did have reason to be concerned. Although she was mainly interested in being screened for osteoporosis, she had a variety of other tests as well, including a scan of the carotid arteries in her neck. The scan found moderate blockages in the arteries.
“My daughter's a nurse, and she said, 'Mom, you need to go to the doctor about that and have it double-checked,' “she says. So she went to her doctor for more testing. “It came back that the arteries were 50 percent blocked on one side and 30 percent on the other.”
Fortunately, her doctor recommended simply monitoring the blockages and reserving surgery for the future if they progress past a certain point. “I probably won't need an invasive procedure because I can change my diet and lifestyle to be able to prevent that,” says Bev, a 48-year-old insurance agent who lives in Murray, Kentucky.
“I walk a lot and started eating healthier. I lost 17 pounds and my cholesterol dropped from 198 to 159,” she says. She also takes a daily aspirin and her doctor is monitoring her annually to keep an eye on the blockages. (The test she originally was interested in getting, by the way, found that she didn't have osteoporosis).
“I'm just really thankful for Life Line Screening. If I hadn't known, I could have had a stroke. I tell everyone to go get screened as soon as they can” she adds.
Colorado Man Finds That Even Construction Workers Can Get Osteoporosis
When Stephen Scudder found out he had a potentially serious condition, he and his wife, Joanne, weren't sure how they were going to explain it to people. After all, Stephen is extremely fit and active, with a job in construction that involves scrambling up ladders and hoisting sheets of plywood and other heavy objects by himself...
"How could he have osteoporosis? Wasn't that something just menopausal women got?" they could hear people asking.
In November 2007, they took the four-hour drive over snowy mountain passes from their home in Lake City, Colorado, to a Life Line Screening event in Telluride. Joanne was particularly interested in the screenings, but "on a lark," Stephen figured if he was going along for the ride, he might as well get checked out, too.
"It's just a simple heel screening, which is no problem at all - you just stick your heel into the test unit there, and they send back the results," he says, recalling the osteoporosis check. But when they got the results, which showed that Stephen had low bone density, they couldn't believe the news. So they went to his doctor. "Even the doctor at first said there's no way you have osteoporosis, as active as you are," he recalls. So Stephen had another scan, and sure enough, the 58-year-old's spine and hip showed that he had severe bone loss.
Stephen doesn't consume much dairy - an important source of calcium - and medical tests showed that his vitamin D levels were low (vitamin D works hand-in-hand with calcium for strong bones). So Stephen, under doctor's supervision, went on a temporary high-dose course of vitamin D, and now takes supplemental calcium daily.
He'll have his bone density checked again this November. If he needs a success story to imitate, Joanne can surely inspire him: She was diagnosed with osteoporosis 10 years ago, and after lots of walking and lots of calcium supplements, her doctor recently broke the good news to her that her bones were back in the normal range.
As the Scudders know - and tell others - bone loss is a silent problem that can do a lot of damage without causing any symptoms. "I've told quite a few people, 'If you have an opportunity to go get a screening, do it.' I didn’t think I had any problems, and I was happy to find out I did so we could take care of it now," Stephen says.
Carotid Screening Helps Florida Woman Reduce Her Stroke Risk
Now that she looks back on the past year, Suzanne Robinson realizes that she wasn't feeling quite well. When she would tilt her head back while putting items on an upper shelf, she would have a dizzy spell. Then in early spring of 2008, she developed double vision...
Suzanne, a 71-year-old retiree, had undergone a Life Line Screening several years before, and thought it was a good time for another appointment, so she visited a screening site in March. The staffers checked her feet for peripheral arterial disease, her abdomen to assess her aorta, and her neck to check the health of her carotid arteries.
The technician became concerned that one of her carotid arteries appeared to be at least 90 percent blocked, she said. The screening staff quickly assembled the results and urged Suzanne to see a doctor immediately. "They wanted to make sure that when I left there I didn't go home — they wanted to make sure I was going to be seen right away." So she took her results to her son, a family medicine doctor, who made an appointment for Suzanne to see a neurologist.
Her left carotid artery indeed was 96 percent blocked, reducing the amount of blood flowing to her brain — and she might have had a stroke within a few months if she hadn't discovered the problem. A surgeon cleaned out the artery and inserted a stent to help hold it open, and also treated another blocked artery in her neck during another procedure.
Several doctors have commented to Suzanne about the usefulness of her visit to Life Line Screening, she says. Her son told her that "Having seen what happened, he would not hesitate to recommend a screening," and her husband's cardiologist said that he hadn't been a believer in this type of service before, but Suzanne's experience changed his mind.
The Fort Myers, Florida, resident knows the damage that artery disease can cause. Both of her grandmothers died of strokes and a brother died of a heart attack at 52. "I've always taken good care of myself, and I think that's a pretty good indication that I should pay attention."