Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can a participant eat or drink
anything before these screenings?
A: We recommend that participants do not eat
or drink anything (except water) within 2
hours prior to the screening, as food/drink
ingestion may interfere with the Abdominal
Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screen.
Q: What should a participant wear to the
A: It is best to wear two-piece clothing for
easy access to the abdominal area (women
should not wear dresses); a short sleeve and
open neck shirt/blouse for easy access to
the upper arm and chest area; and no
pantyhose or restrictive footwear for easy
access to the ankle area.
Q: What is a preventive
cardiovascular disease health screening?
A: SafeHeart's cardiovascular screening
teams use state-of-the-art ultrasound
and other screening equipment to screen
for early risk of stroke, heart attack,
peripheral vascular disease and abdominal
aortic aneurysms. Our screens are convenient
in that they are mobile and we bring our
services to corporations, churches and other
civic organizations, and we partner as well
with local hospitals and other medical
Q: How much does a SafeHeart preventive
cardiovascular disease health screen cost?
A: SafeHeart’s comprehensive package of 5
CVD screens costs only $129, with further
discounts available for closed screenings
which involve only minimal marketing costs.
This cost is significantly less than would
typically be charged when having comparable
tests administered in a hospital or
physician's office (anywhere from
Q: What is the payment process for the
A: Individuals paying for their screens can
do so at the time of scheduling or at the
actual screening. SafeHeart accepts all
major credit cards, check or debit cards,
paper checks or cash. If participants would
like to pay by credit card, but do not wish
to pay online, they may call us at
1-866-548-3006 and a sales associate will
process the information. Also, in the case
of a corporate screen, if an employer is
paying all or part of the screening costs,
SafeHeart will not invoice the employer
until all of the screens have been
Q: What screens are used to determine the
presence of CVD?
A: Five different screens are used to
determine the presence of CVD – a Carotid
Artery Disease Screen; a Carotid Intima-Media
Thickness Screen; an Abdominal Aortic
Aneurysm Screen, a Peripheral Vascular
Disease Screen, and an Atrial Fibrillation
Q: What type of equipment is used?
A: State-of-the art equipment, such as the
GE Healthcare Vivid i cardiovascular
ultrasound system, provides mobile,
high-performance, and full-featured imaging.
This is the same ultrasound technology found
in hospitals and clinics. Additionally, heart rhythms are measured using a rhythm strip analysis to look for the presence of atrial fibrillation, and blood pressure cuffs and
ultrasound probes are used to look for
restricted blood flow to the lower
extremities. Preventive maintenance is
performed on all SafeHeart equipment on a
Q: Why should I be screened if I am not
having any symptoms?
A: Anyone (male or female) over the age of
40 should consider scheduling a
cardiovascular screen, whether or not they
have symptoms and whether or not they have
specific risk factors present.
Unfortunately, over 50% of the victims of
heart attack, stroke or aneurysm rupture
have no warning whatsoever – their first
symptom IS the catastrophic event. This is
why preventive screening is so important,
because it can identify cardiovascular
problems before any symptoms appear and
while you still have time to do something
about it. Once disease is detected, an
individual’s physician can then recommend an
appropriate treatment program that may
prevent of slow down further progression of
the disease. Early detection is our primary
goal, and SafeHeart makes it easy - our
screens are quick (less than 15 minutes),
painless (no needles) and affordable (less
than our competitors).
Q: Why do you suggest screening at age
A: Individuals below 40 are much less likely
than those over 40 to have significant
cardiovascular disease. SafeHeart does
screen people younger than 40, but we do not
promote or recommend this absent a family
history of cardiovascular disease, presence
of considerable risk factors, or a doctor
Q: What are the primary risk factors for
A: The American Heart Association has
identified several risk factors that
increase the risk of CVD. The first three we
have no control over and these are age;
gender (men have a greater risk of heart
attack); and heredity (family history of
heart disease). Other risk factors that can
be controlled are smoking; high cholesterol;
high blood pressure; physical inactivity;
being overweight; and diabetes.
Q: What are contributing risk factors for
A: Other factors that have been associated
with an increased risk of CVD are stress and
excessive alcohol consumption.
Q: Are the health screens painful?
A: No, they are painless and non-invasive
(no needles or disrobing involved).
Q: Is seating available while
A: Yes, seating is always available for
participants during the registration
Q: Are the screening tests done in a
A: Yes. We use substantial privacy screens
to ensure the utmost privacy and to separate
those being tested from those in the waiting
area. The only clothing that must be removed
in the screening process is shoes and socks.
Q: What if the results indicate that the
participant is not at risk for CVD?
A: They are advised to continue their
healthy lifestyle and to continue to follow
up with their healthcare provider regularly.
Q: What if the results indicate that the
participant is at risk for CVD?
A: Every participant is provided with a
detailed Results Report. In the event of any
finding which, based on established medical
protocol, falls outside of the normal range
for that participant’s age, that participant
is advised to follow up with their
Q. Who receives copies of the Results
A. Each individual that is screened receives
a Results Report in the mail within two
weeks of the screening. In the event that
results for the Carotid Artery Ultrasound,
the Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound, the Atrial
Fibrillation and the Peripheral Vascular
Disease Screens are abnormal, that
individual’s family doctor will also receive
a copy of the Results Report. (The family
doctor will NOT receive a copy of the
Results Report in the event of an abnormal
Carotid Intima Media Thickness Ultrasound
Screen (CIMT)). The decision regarding which
doctor would be sent a copy of the report in
the event of abnormal results is made by
each screening participant prior to the
Q: Why aren’t abnormal CIMT results
forwarded to a participant’s family doctor?
A: The CIMT Ultrasound Screen measures the
thickness of the carotid artery wall. It is
a validated method to assess for early or
pre-clinical signs of atherosclerosis
(“hardening of the arteries”). While an
abnormal CIMT has been associated with a
higher risk for heart attack and stroke, it
does not by itself indicate the existence of
mild, moderate or significant plaque
build-up. As a result, an abnormal CIMT does
not carry with it the same level of urgency
as would a carotid artery ultrasound, and for
this reason, SafeHeart does not forward to
family doctors Results Reports based solely
on an abnormal CIMT. Nonetheless, such a
finding provides a screening participant
with extremely valuable information, as it
may indicate the need for more aggressive
risk factor modification and/or lifestyle
changes. It is information that we encourage
participants to share with their family
doctors at their convenience.
Q: What is the difference between a
screening and a full diagnostic study that
is received at a doctor’s office?
A: A screen is for the purpose of
identifying potentially significant findings
so that the individual participant may then
take those findings to their physician. The
physician then determines if additional
diagnostic studies are necessary to quantify
the extent of the disease and/or the
percentage of blockage. Screens ‘identify’
and diagnostic studies ‘quantify’. The
advantage of a screen, as opposed to a
diagnostic study, is that it is inexpensive,
readily available, and reliable. No
screening study is 100% accurate, whether
one is talking about cardiovascular screens,
PAP smears, mammograms, etc. They do,
however, provide valuable information that
could very well be life-saving.
Q: If someone has a doctor already,
does he/she need to have your screens?
A: SafeHeart Health Screens’ services do not
in any way replace those of a participant’s
doctor. On the contrary, we simply provide
both individuals and their doctors with
additional information about their
cardiovascular health that can help reduce
their risk of heart attack and stroke.
SafeHeart does not refer individuals to any
particular health care provider, but
encourages instead that they follow-up, if
necessary, with their own doctor.
Q: Can an individual’s own doctor perform
these screens as part of their routine
A: Usually a physician will not order the
types of screens we offer, nor will
insurance pay for them, unless the patient
is experiencing symptoms. Unfortunately,
over 50% of victims of heart attack, stroke
and aneurysm rupture have NO warning. This
creates a difficult ‘catch-22’ for those
people who don’t want to wait until it is
too late. So our goal is to identify those
people who are at risk BEFORE the heart
attack, stroke or aneurysm occurs and while
they still have time to try to prevent it.
Q: Where does SafeHeart set up? Is this
done in a bus or van?
A: We do not screen in our van. Our
experienced team of ultrasound technologists
and medical technicians bring our equipment
from our home office in Hattiesburg,
Mississippi, to the host facility and
screens inside the facility. We require a
room measuring approximately 25’ x 25’, with
access to tables and chairs for waiting
Q: Is SafeHeart licensed?
A: SafeHeart is licensed to do business in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas.
Q: What are the qualifications of
SafeHeart’s ultrasound technologists?
A: Our ultrasound technologists are ARDMS,
RDCS, RVT and RCS-registered or registry
eligible cardiac or vascular sonographers
with many years of experience.
Q: Who interprets the screening data
obtained by the ultrasound and medical
A: The screening data is interpreted by our
Medical Director, Dr. Greg Vickers, who is a
board-certified interventional radiologist
with Comprehensive Radiology Services
(formerly Hattiesburg Radiology). Three of Dr. Vickers’ partners
assist in the interpretations as well.
Q: Are these screens covered by
A: Medicare* and insurance do not cover the
cost of preventive screenings. Sometimes
policies contain preventive care/wellness
coverage which may or may not apply. For
those who wish to check with their insurance
carrier, we will provide an itemized receipt
for payment of our screening services, which
can then be submitted to determine coverage.
Coverage for preventive healthcare differs
from policy to policy and employer to
(*Medicare does cover an AAA screen for a
limited group of Medicare recipients.
SafeHeart, however, does not submit
insurance or Medicare claims).
Q: How often should I be screened?
A: Cardiovascular disease is a progressive
disease, so it is advisable to screen
annually unless otherwise indicated by your
healthcare provider. By all means, do
not hesitate to check with your healthcare
provider prior to having these screens done.
Q: How long does it take to have these
A: SafeHeart screens 95-100 people per a
one-day screening using two separate
screening stations. All 5 screens take only
10 minutes per person, because the
ultrasound technologist and the medical
technician at each station are working
simultaneously to get all 5 screens
completed, and the screening participant
remains in the same location/position for
all 5 screens. There are registration forms
to fill out in advance, but the entire
process, including check-in and screening,
takes no more than 30 minutes total.
Q: How long does it take to get the
A: Subsequent to a screening event, the
screening data is delivered to our
board-certified Interpreting Physicians, and
subsequent to interpretation, participants
receive their confidential reports within 2
weeks of the date of the screening.
Q: Will I receive copies of the actual
A: In the event that a participant has
significant or abnormal findings with
respect to the Carotid Artery Ultrasound,
the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Ultrasound,
the Atrial Fibrillation or the Peripheral
Vascular Disease Screens, in addition to the
Results Report, they will receive copies of
the actual images/data to take with them
when they seek follow-up care with their
family doctor. The family doctor will also
receive a full copy of the Result Report.
A: SafeHeart takes the utmost care with
individuals’ privacy and voluntarily
complies with all applicable HIPAA rules and
regulations. For more information, see our
Q: Is SafeHeart Health Screens insured?
A: Yes. We are fully insured.
Q: How accurate are SafeHeart’s screens?
A: No screen can be 100% accurate, but
ultrasound technology offers the most
accurate means of visualizing plaque and
aneurysms, and at the same time is safe and
non-invasive. This is why both the Society
for Vascular Surgery and the SHAPE Taskforce
recommends ultrasound screening for
asymptomatic individuals. Our strict
internal protocols, our highly qualified
technologists, our state-of-the-art mobile
equipment, and our board-certified
Interventional Radiologists, all combine to
provide highly accurate screenings.
Q: Are you affiliated with any hospitals?
A: We often partner with local hospitals in
promoting our screening events, but all of
medical information is kept private. All
Result Reports are sent directly to the
participants and/or to their physician of
Q: What happens if a serious problem is
detected at the screening event?
A: SafeHeart has emergency protocols in
place, established by our Medical Director,
which cover situations involving critical
findings. We have an Interpreting Physician
on call for each screening event, and if a
critical finding is detected by the
technologist, the on-call physician will be
consulted, and participants may be notified
to seek immediate medical attention.
Participants may also receive documentation
of the critical finding that they will be
able to share with their medical provider.
Our personnel are CPR-trained and we have
Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs)
available at each of our screening events.
Q: Why isn’t there a physician on-site at
a screening event?
A: In each state in which SafeHeart screens,
we abide by the rules and regulations of
that state’s Department of Health or
applicable regulatory body regarding
required physician involvement for screening
services. The presence of a physician
on-site during the screening process is not
required in the states in which SafeHeart
screens. Nonetheless, all of our
Interpreting Physicians are board-certified
vascular specialists licensed to practice in
the states in which the screening event is
Q: Can an individual get a CVD health
screen if he/she has a pacemaker?
A: Yes. A pacemaker will not interfere with