Our Screening Program
The Heart and Vascular Center Screening Program at St. Joseph Hospital consists of four components:
- Measurement of arm blood pressure to check for hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Stroke/Carotid Artery Ultrasound: a noninvasive test to look for plaques that can cause a stroke. The carotid artery is in your neck and is one of the main arteries that supplies blood to your brain. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in this country. More than half of all strokes in older Americans are due to carotid artery disease and there are proven treatments to reduce strokes in those cases.
- Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound: a noninvasive test to look for an aneurysm. The abdominal aorta is the large artery that carries blood to the lower half of your body. An aneurysm is a weakened area of your aorta that has distended and could potentially rupture. This is the 10th leading cause of death in men over 50 in this country, but most people don’t know they have an aneurysm. An aneurysm can be permanently cured when it is diagnosed early, but rupture is fatal in most cases.
Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI): a test to look for peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This is a measurement of blood flow at the ankle level to check for any blockages that may have developed in the arteries of your legs. PAD affects the health of millions of older Americans, at least a quarter of those over 70. People with PAD have a much higher risk of stroke and heart attack, but these risks can be reduced if PAD is diagnosed early.
- Stroke / Carotid Artery Screening - Preparation: Please wear a shirt that is open at the collar and short sleeved. No turtlenecks, please. You will be asked to get on an exam table and lie on your back. The technologist will be examining your neck.
- Abdominal Aortic Screening - Preparation: Please wear a comfortable two-piece outfit of loose clothing. You must fast for four hours prior to your screening. The meal four hours prior to your screening should be a “light meal” (less than a half-cup of what you normally eat of non-gassy food). You may have a half-cup of coffee or tea during your fasting period and moderate amount of water if you are thirsty. If you take medication, we ask that you take it as prescribed. If you are diabetic and are not comfortable fasting for four hours, please limit yourself to a “diabetic meal” (piece of toast, 1 cup of any kind of juice and half a cup coffee or tea). If you are in doubt, please follow your diabetic care plan. You will be asked to get on an exam table and lie on your back. The technologist will be examining your abdominal area.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease Screening - Preparation: Please wear a short-sleeved shirt or blouse. Do not wear pantyhose. You will be asked to remove your socks and shoes. The technicians will be placing blood pressure cuffs on your upper arms and ankles.
Frequently Asked Screening Questions
How long does a screening take?
The screening itself takes about 20 minutes. However, after the screening our vascular nurse or clinical coordinator will meet with you to discuss the results.
Does the screening hurt?
No. The screening is performed utilizing high-resolution ultrasound and is painless.
Is there a better test I should get instead of this screening?
A screening is a relatively low-cost test designed to identify normal from abnormal results and to then refer anyone with an abnormal screening result on for further evaluation. Screening tests are paid for by the individual. There are more sophisticated tests; however, generally these tests are costly and unless there is a reasonable expectation that the test is warranted (for example, there was a previous abnormal screening result), most insurers will not cover the cost.
Where is the screening test performed?
Screenings take place in the St. Joseph Hospital Vascular Institute, which is located in the St. Joseph Hospital Outpatient Pavilion at 1140 W. La Veta Avenue in Orange.
How Much Does the Screening Cost?
For the complete screening, the cost is $95. However, you could request to have only a Carotid Artery Ultrasound screening at a cost of $45, or the Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound screening at a cost of $45 or the ABI screening at a cost of $45. Insurance, including Medicare, does not cover the costs for these screenings. Screening costs are payable by cash, credit card or check.
Will I get my results after the screening? Will you forward my results to my treating/primary care physician?
After your screening tests are complete, a vascular nurse specialist will discuss your risk factors and answer any questions you might have. At your choosing, the results will be sent to your regular doctor. You can also schedule an appointment with the Vascular Institute physician if your screening test shows any evidence of vascular disease.
The Vascular Institute offers a wide range of treatment options that are based on the severity of the patient's condition and factors that are unique to each individual. Lifestyle counseling and education - also offered at the Vascular Institute - play key roles in the recovery and treatment from peripheral arterial disease