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home : columnists : columnists April 27, 2017


2/3/2017 4:00:00 AM
Taking health to heart on Wear Red Day today
Amanda Miller (left), The Times photo by Betsy ReasonRiverview Health’s supervisor of cardiovascular ultrasound, performs an Ankle Brachial Index Test, the third part of a Vascular Screening Package, on Thursday with a patient. The test is among several heart and vascular health tests that are available without a doctor’s order at Riverview, which started direct-access labs in 2011 to help people with high-deductible insurance plans. The number has grown 400 percent, from 1,000 tests in 2011 to 4,000 tests in 2016. Over the past year, there was a 25 percent increase.
Amanda Miller (left), The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Riverview Health’s supervisor of cardiovascular ultrasound, performs an Ankle Brachial Index Test, the third part of a Vascular Screening Package, on Thursday with a patient. The test is among several heart and vascular health tests that are available without a doctor’s order at Riverview, which started direct-access labs in 2011 to help people with high-deductible insurance plans. The number has grown 400 percent, from 1,000 tests in 2011 to 4,000 tests in 2016. Over the past year, there was a 25 percent increase.

By Betsy Reason
Editor


Today is National Wear Red Day, bringing awareness to heart disease in women.

A young baby boomer, I have recently become more concerned about the health of my heart.

Is the occasional pain in my chest related to stress, indigestion or a precursor to a heart attack? Just thinking about it made my blood pressure rise.

I always have my annual physical with my family doctor, but I wanted to know more.

Recently, I received a letter in the mail from Riverview Health, touting its accredited Chest Pain Center and the newly remodeled heart and vascular cath lab with the latest imaging technology. The letter mentioned heart and vascular health tests that are available without a doctor's order.

So I went online to Riverview's mobile web site, where the first thing that I saw was how to order a $49 heart scan. The heart scan would determine the amount of hardened plaque inside my coronary arteries. Riverview also offers a baseline electrocardiogram (EK) for $10. Add in a vascular screening package for $79 that tests for blockages of arteries in the neck, an ultrasound to look for an aneurysm in the aorta and a test that screens for plaque buildup and blockages in the legs.

Yes, I would do all three. Thankfully, each of the tests came back normal. In fact, I had "zero" calcium buildup on my heart. I sighed a relief.

Finishing up, I wondered about the popularity of these direct-access labs. Do a lot of people schedule their own tests? The answer is "yes."

Riverview started direct-access labs in 2011 to help people with high-deductible insurance plans. The number has grown 400 percent, from 1,000 tests in 2011 to 4,000 tests in 2016.

Over the past year, Riverview had "a 25 percent increase of people taking accountability for their health," said Angie Bollinger, Riverview's director cardiovascular and infusion services. "People are taking accountability for their heart now."

And it's as easy as scheduling a screening on the telephone and paying online.

"The heart controls everything in your body. It's so important to take care of it and monitor it," said the 45-year-old Noblesville woman, a registered nurse who, 22 years ago, had cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects the heart muscle.

I shared with her my results, including the "zero" calcium, which she doesn't see very often, she said. While diet and exercise are important, genetics also are a part of the equation, she said.

Plus, the EKG checks for electrical disturbances in the heart, can determine if you have had a heart attack that you didn't know about, or if your heart is enlarged. Riverview also does EKGs for youth sports physicals that can determine in a young athlete is at risk for heart issues.

She said people shouldn't underestimate these screenings, which can "save a life instantly," she said.

The hospital offers the screenings and "makes them affordable" because, she said, "we want to promote being proactive for their health."

Riverview also offers direct-access thyroid testing and a lung cancer screening and more at www.riverview.org.

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.





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