November 9, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Laurie Ott, President University Health Care Foundation
University Hospital’s Lifesaving Mobile Screening Unit Introduced to the Community
AUGUSTA – Plans to take lifesaving heart and vascular screenings to people at their employment and other community venues were unveiled today by University Health Care System.
University Hospital’s Mobile Heart & Vascular Screening Unit, nicknamed the Heart Cart, is being outfitted and will be on the streets in January, according to Mac Bowman, M.D., a cardiologist who practices at University and is co-medical director of the Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center at University Hospital.
“Many people today know what their lipid numbers are, but that is just the tip of the iceberg in managing this insidious disease process and developing a plan of action before a life-altering event or death occurs,” Dr. Bowman said.
The screening unit, staffed by University Hospital’s Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center, will have the capability to transport simple screening tools to include basic lipid panel, glucose, height, weight and waist circumference, Dr. Bowman said. More advanced capabilities, not provided by any other local hospital in a mobile unit, will include the Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT) test, a noninvasive ultrasound recommended by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology to screen for heart disease in apparently healthy individuals ages 45 or older.
“These tests will help save lives because they can detect disease in people who are normal weight, don’t smoke, exercise regularly and therefore think they are in good health, when actually they could be a walking time bomb,” Dr. Bowman said.
An additional screening tool planned for the unit includes the Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) test, with results used to predict the severity of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). A slight drop in your ABI with exercise means that you probably have PAD. This drop may be important, because PAD can be linked to a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.
Finally, the University Hospital Heart Cart will conduct ultrasounds to screen for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA), a major health risk that may not show symptoms until a life-threatening rupture occurs.
“Our goal is to save lives by educating, screening and engaging people, especially the unsuspecting, because those are the ones at greatest risk,” Dr. Bowman said. “This vehicle makes it possible to come to the workplace, a place of worship or wherever necessary to help make people at risk or with early vascular disease aware of their risk. We then take this information to stratify risk, customize a treatment solution for each patient and navigate follow through on behalf of the patient. This is the future of heart care – making a difference before a major cardiovascular event has occurred.”
The screening unit was made possible by a generous $45,735 donation to University Health Care Foundation by the Volunteer Board of University Health Care System.