Our vascular system is a complex subject that deserves comprehensive care knowing there is build-up of plaque in your arteries and veins before a stroke, heart attack or aneurysm occurs is vitally important. Thankfully for folks in and around Yankton, stroke and vascular screenings are now available at Avera Sacred Heart. We met a Nebraska woman who was happy to take advantage of the potentially life saving tests.
Mary Ann Wortmann from Crofton, Nebraska was thrilled when her hospital, Avera Sacred Heart in Yankton, started offering 3 different vascular screenings in October. Being in the health care field, Mary Ann knows the importance of preventative medicine. She's also been a patient after a stroke scare 11 years ago.
Mary Ann says, "I had a TIA in 1998 and from that experience I've had ultrasounds done on my carotids and other tests. If there is something I can do to prevent that from happening again I will because it was a horrible experience."
A TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) is often called a mini-stroke. It has all the symptoms of a stroke but no lasting damage. It's also considered a warning-stroke since more than a third of the people who have one will have a major stroke if something isn't done to prevent it. That's why Mary Ann is so insistent on preventative care.
Avera Sacred Heart Sonographer Holly Wintz says, "It's basically an over scan to look for signs of obvious disease but we are taking wave forms and measurements. Then a radiologist will look at all the tests and mail the results to the patients."
Avera Sacred Heart Radiation Technologist (sonographer) Alicia Novak is doing the screening on Mary Ann. Novak explains everything as she does it and how they put the ultrasound on each side of the neck on the carotid arteries and look at blood flow and plague.
They also take blood pressure in both arms and compare it to the pressure in the legs as part of the ankle brachial indexes. It should be higher in the legs since they are further away from the heart and both legs should be very close in pressure. If one is way off of the other reading then that could be a sign of something wrong.
Wintz says, "Early detection is key in any disease. If we find plaque or stenosis (narrowing of the arteries) then they would go to their doctor and get a work up."
All three screenings for stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm and peripheral arterial disease came back clean. Three simple procedures that look less than an hour to do, but gave Mary Ann and her family a lot of comfort and peace of mind.
Avera Sacred Heart offers the screenings Monday through Friday from 8:00 am - 4:00 pm. It cost $35 for one or $100 for all three. Just call to make an appointment (605) 668-8150.