Frequently Asked Questions

Screening Preparation:

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 screening?

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.

General Questions:

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 services providers.

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 $1000-$2000).

Q: What is the payment process for the screens?

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 completed.

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 Screen.

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 regular basis.

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 40?

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 recommendation.

Q: What are the primary risk factors for CVD?

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 CVD?

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 participants wait?

A: Yes, seating is always available for participants during the registration process.

Q: Are the screening tests done in a private area?

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 healthcare provider.

Q. Who receives copies of the Results Reports?

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 screening.

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 physical?

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 clients.

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 technologists?

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 insurance?

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 employer.
(*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 screenings done?

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 Results Reports?

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 screening data?

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.

Q: What is SafeHeart’s privacy policy for screening participants?

A: SafeHeart takes the utmost care with individuals’ privacy and voluntarily complies with all applicable HIPAA rules and regulations. For more information, see our privacy policy at http://www.safehearthealthscreens.com/privacy_policy.php.

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 choice.

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 being held.

Q: Can an individual get a CVD health screen if he/she has a pacemaker?

A: Yes. A pacemaker will not interfere with the screenings.