UltraSound Physical

FAQs -Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When and how will I receive my health screening results?

Results will be emailed to you within 15 days. You may choose for a hard copy to be mailed to your address. Board-certified physicians review your results first, and then send them on for processing and mailing. However, if we find a condition that requires immediate attention, we will notify you on the day of your screening.

Q. Who reviews the health screening results?

Licensed, board-certified physicians review all your screening results. Our team includes vascular surgeons, cardiologists, and radiologists.

Q. Will I get my screening pictures back?

You will receive printed images of your screenings only if we are recommending that you see your physician for further evaluation. However, you will always receive a detailed written report.

Q. What happens when a problem is identified?

If your results are not normal, you will receive a detailed report of the findings along with instructions to see your physician for further evaluation. Our screenings are designed to screen for problems, not to measure the severity of a condition. If our screenings alert you of a problem, you will need to consult with your physician about having more comprehensive testing.

Q. Can I eat or drink anything before these screenings?

It depends on which screening you are having. Once you register for a screening, you will receive specific instructions. It is important for you to follow those directions in order to get the most accurate results.

Q. How long do the screenings take?

How long depends on the number of Exams that you signed up for. A typical screening takes just over 30 minutes. Accuracy and quality output are essential to us, so we make every effort to balance that with respect for your schedule.

Q. How can you assure the consistency and reliability of your machines?

All machines perform a self-diagnostic check and continually recalibrate throughout the day. They also undergo regular maintenance check-ups.

Q. How common is heart disease?

More than 25 million Americans have heart disease and it is the leading cause of death among both males and females in the United States. Cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) claims more lives each year than cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, and diabetes combined.

Q. What is Carotid Artery Disease? What is a stroke?

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is stopped, causing brain cells to die.

Q. Are women at greater risk for stroke than men?

Stroke is often seen as a man’s problem. But in fact, it is a major concern for women. Twice as many women die from stroke than breast cancer every year.

Q. Should patients who have had a stroke or heart attack have the carotid artery screening?

Yes, but they may want to check with their doctor first, because their insurance may cover the cost of their diagnostic studies.

Q. If I have an abnormal result for the carotid artery screening, does this mean I will need surgery?

No. Abnormal findings for this study means that a problem exists, which your physician needs to know about in order to conduct further diagnostic testing. You may need medication or lifestyle changes, as well as yearly follow-ups. If the disease is advanced enough, your physician may refer you to a vascular surgeon.

Q. If I have an aneurysm, what is the risk of death from rupture?

Once an aneurysm reaches 5 to 6 cm in diameter, the risk of rupture is very high. If rupture occurs, there is approximately an 80 to 95% chance of death. Therefore, the majority of vascular surgeons would agree that a 5 to 6 cm aneurysm should be repaired immediately, unless other medical factors make surgery risky.

Q. What is peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?

PAD, is the hardening of the arteries, is a condition in which the large and medium-sized arteries supplying blood to the legs become narrow, constricting the flow of blood. PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, a gradual process in which cholesterol and scar tissue build up, forming a substance called plaque that clogs the artery.

Q. Can participants with blood clots in their legs have an ankle-brachial index (ABI) screening?

No. If a participant has a history of blood clots and is unsure if the blood clots have been resolved, we cannot perform the screening without this verification.

Q. Can a participant who has had a mastectomy have an ABI?

Yes. We take the pressure in the other arm and use that to formulate a ratio. We do this because when a patient has had surgery for breast cancer, usually lymph nodes under the arm are removed as well. Compression of the lymph system of the arm can lead to prolonged painful swelling. If you’ve had a double mastectomy, we will perform the screening on whichever arm you use to have blood pressure taken. You may want to check with your doctor before your screening to find out which arm is preferable.

Q. What does it mean if the arteries do not compress?

Non-compressibility is due to vascular disease of the walls of the vessels. This leads to the participant receiving an abnormal reading. It is most commonly seen in people who have diabetes. It may also happen in individuals who do not have diabetes as well.

Q. Does a lower ratio mean more severe arterial disease than a higher abnormal ratio?

Yes. The lower the ratio, the more severe the arterial disease is.

Q. What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bone becomes extremely fragile.

Q. Will this screening tell me if I have osteoporosis?

No single risk factor should be used for diagnosis. Osteoporosis is a complex disorder. Your physician will use your bone mineral density measurement along with your other clinical risk factors (gender, age, fracture history, family history, medications, smoking, exercise, calcium intake, and general health status) as an aid in deciding if you should have a DEXA scan—the gold standard in the diagnosis of osteoporosis.

Q. How accurate is the Prevent First Osteoporosis risk assessment?

It is approximately 90% accurate. Since we are screening your heel and not your hip, and since osteoporosis is not uniform throughout the body, false positives may occur.

Q. Is your osteoporosis screening equipment FDA-approved?

Yes. Our ultrasound bone densitometers have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way drugs are approved, with specific indications for use. The Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the FDA approved the use of this devise to: "perform a quantitative ultrasound measurement of the calcaneus (heel bone), the results of which can be used in conjunction with other clinical risk factors as an aid to the physician in the diagnosis of osteoporosis and medical conditions leading to reduced bone density, and ultimately in the determination of fracture risk."

Q. How will my doctor use the information from the Prevent First Osteoporosis risk assessment?

If our osteoporosis screening finds you are at risk for osteoporosis, your physician may recommend dietary and lifestyle changes, schedule a DEXA scan, or even prescribe a drug therapy to increase your bone density.

Q. What type of equipment is used?

We use the same state-of-the-art technologies that are standard in hospitals across the country for all our screenings. We are continually evaluating new equipment to ensure that our equipment is the most advanced.

Q. What kind of training have your ultrasound technologists received?

Our highly skilled, experienced sonographers and medical technologists have all completed formal medical and ultrasound programs, clinical rotations and specialized training.

Q. Why are your screenings shorter than those performed in hospitals?

Our aim is to identify the presence of an unrecognized health problem and to encourage those with significant disease to follow up with their personal physician for a more detailed evaluation. We do this by offering simple, accurate, affordable screenings that detect whether or not the more costly comprehensive exam is necessary.

Q. I am concerned about privacy. How private is the screening area?

We take your privacy seriously, which is why we always use private rooms. We also provide gowns for heart screenings. You need not remove any clothing for our screenings other than your shoes and socks if you did not sign up for Heart Ultrasound Screening.

Q. What screenings can I get if I use a wheelchair?

You are welcome to bring an assistant to help you in any way. If you are able to stand and support your weight, we can administer all our available screenings. We can assist you with turning around and sitting on the table and then assist you to help you lie down on the exam table.

Q. How accurate are your health screenings?

By adhering to strict protocols, hiring highly qualified staff and using state-of-the-art equipment, we are dedicated to providing you with the most accurate results.

Q. What is heart disease?

Heart disease includes a group of diseases and conditions affecting the heart. It is one component of cardiovascular disease, which also includes diseases of the vascular system (blood vessels). The leading type of heart disease is coronary artery disease. It is caused by the gradual buildup of fatty plaque deposits in the coronary arteries called atherosclerosis.

Q. Can I reduce my risk of developing heart disease?

Yes. There are several risk factors for heart disease that are controllable. These include high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes. Other risk factors, including family history of heart disease, increasing age, and male gender are not controllable.

Q. How can I reduce my risk for stroke?

You can help reduce your risk for stroke by:
* Controlling high blood pressure
  * Controlling high cholesterol
  * Eating a healthy diet
  * Staying active
  * Controlling diabetes
* Not smoking

Q. Do the screenings given by Prevent First detect all causes of stroke?

No. We screen for some leading causes of stroke, including carotid artery disease and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). We also screen for common stroke risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and elevated C-reactive protein.

Q. Can I get rid of plaque?

Lifestyle changes and medical management are effective ways of slowing the progression of atherosclerotic disease and preventing stroke. The main option for removal of atherosclerotic plaque buildup is surgery. You would not be a candidate for surgery unless your doctor deemed the disease advanced enough.

Q. What is an aneurysm?

An aneurysm is the enlargement of a blood vessel. Aneurysms pose a major health threat because they can rupture (tear). A ruptured aneurysm in the brain causes a stroke and a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause blood loss, shock, and death.

Q. What causes aneurysms?

Theories developed over the last 15 years appears that the disease probably has a genetic component, as it tends to run in families. Plaque buildup, smoking, and high blood pressure are believed to be contributing factors.

Q. Who is at greatest risk for an aneurysm?

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs after the age of 50 and more commonly in men than women. Aneurysms are the 10th-leading cause of death in men over the age of 55. Research indicates that women aged 65 and older with cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and tobacco use, are also at increased risk.

Q. Why is an AAA so dangerous?

An AAA poses a threat because it usually doesn’t show symptoms until a medical emergency occurs.

Q. How can I find out if I have an AAA?

If you are thin and have a moderately large-sized AAA, you or your doctor may be able to feel it below your rib cage. The majority of AAAs are discovered as a result of medical imaging for other conditions. A Prevent First AAA ultrasound can easily detect this condition.

Q. Can a participant with heart disease have an ABI?

Yes. This is a reason to have the screening done. People who have heart disease are at higher risk for peripheral arterial disease. People who have an abnormal ABI are 3 to 5 times more likely to have coronary artery disease.

Q. Can the ABI show any problems with venous disease (deep venous thrombosis, phlebitis, varicose veins)?

No. The ABI screens for peripheral arterial disease only. We do not conduct venous disease testing.

Q. Why do you measure my heel for the osteoporosis risk assessment screening?

The heel bone most closely matches that of your hip and it is a weight-bearing bone.

Q. Why should I have the Prevent First Osteoporosis risk assessment? Shouldn't I just get a DEXA scan?

Our screening is a much lower-cost, radiation-free, logical first step in helping you identify your risk for osteoporosis. If you are among those we screen who are at low risk for bone diminishment, you will not need a DEXA scan.

Q. Are there clinical studies showing that ultrasound bone densitometers that measure the heel are accurate enough to benefit me?

Yes. The National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment (NORA) Study, published December 12, 2001, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, assessed osteoporosis in 200,000 postmenopausal women using peripheral bone densitometers including the model used by Prevent First. The authors concluded that, while osteoporosis and low bone mass are reaching epidemic proportions, the conditions remain largely under-diagnosed. Because DEXA is an expensive and limited option for many, ultrasound remains an effective and practical screening tool for the population at large.

Q. If I have already had a DEXA scan and have been on medication, should I have the Prevent First Osteoporosis risk assessment to see if I have improved my bone density?

No. Our screening device is not FDA-approved to monitor your response to therapy. You should ask your physician about having another DEXA scan.