Madison hospital offers expanded stroke screenings
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
Someone in the United States suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and fatal strokes occur every four minutes.|
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes are the fourth highest cause of death, claiming 130,000 Americans annually. It's the leading cause of disability, affecting nearly 800,000 people each year.
Forty percent of people affected, 40 are men and 60 percent are women. Those at risk for a stroke, however, can take steps to monitor their health. Three screening tests are now available at the Madison Community Hospital.
Vascular Technologist Whitney Kreutzfeldt and Cardiac and Vascular Technologist Chelsea Dagen said the tests have been available since last fall but offered only twice a month. Now the tests are available by appointment every Monday from 1-5:30 p.m.
Dagen said the screenings are typically not tests covered by insurance, and therefore a doctor's recommendation is not needed. But the tests are a good idea if someone is at risk, which includes anyone over age 55 or anyone 40 or older with multiple risk factors.
Those with an increased risk of having a stroke include someone who smokes, has high blood pressure or high stress, is overweight, has an inactive lifestyle, has diabetes or has high cholesterol. A family history of heart disease or stroke is also a risk factor, Dagen said, as well as someone who has gone through chemotherapy.
Kreutzfeldt said there's a higher risk for women who have high blood pressure and take birth control.
Those who sign up for the screenings can have one test conducted for $30 or all three tests for $75. Screenings available include a carotid artery scan, which checks the carotid arteries for plaque buildup and blockage; a scan to check for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms, which is a bulge in the aorta that is at risk of rupturing; and a scan to check for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).
Dagen said the PAD scan involves comparing a person's ankle blood pressure with blood pressure in the arm. Comparing these readings can help detect possible blockages or plaque buildup within the arteries in the legs.
Each test takes about 15 minutes and results are available in a week. Patients are asked to fill out a questionnaire about their health and family history prior to the screenings.
"It's a good starting point for someone to get a base level to see where they are at and how often they should check it," Dagen said.
An ultrasound machine is used to complete the screenings, and courtesy readings are provided by Dr. Greg Schultz and Partners in Sioux Falls.
Strokes fall into one of two categories: ischemic or hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke involves a blood clot that has lodged somewhere and prevents blood flow. A hemorrhagic stroke involves a ruptured blood vessel in the brain.
The severity of the stroke can range from mild to severe. Dagen said symptoms depend on the part of the brain affected.
"Some are disabled for life and some have good recovery," she said. "It's good to get on top of these things and prevent them from happening."