The screening includes simple finger-stick blood tests for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI, based on height and weight), waist circumference, and a brief questionnaire on personal and family health history as well as lifestyle factors.
Preventive health screenings use modern, up-to-date medical technology to identify potential problems before you have symptoms. For instance, the carotid artery ultrasound screening is the same safe ultrasound that is used with pregnant women, only it is used to look inside your carotid arteries. The screening tech will measure the rate the blood flows through your arteries, which is affected by the presence of plaque. Plaque in the carotid arteries is a major risk factor for stroke, because it can break off and travel to the brain, or if it completely blocks blood flow, the brain becomes deprived of oxygen.
Many common illnesses are silent in the early stages of development: cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, abdominal aortic aneurysm, and atrial fibrillation to name a few. Think of it this way: preventive screenings help you learn what your body is NOT telling you.
Early detection of risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease enables you to work with your doctor to develop an action plan, with the goal of preventing chronic disease. Some risk factors you can control: smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active, for instance. Some risk factors you cannot control, like your age or your family history of stroke and heart disease. Preventive screenings provide powerful information, enabling you to have even more knowledge regarding your risk. And knowledge is power.