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This post was developed in collaboration with Lundbeck
Sometimes your professional skills come in handy when it comes to your personal life. In the case of Bob, his lifelong job as a professor at a local university helped him understand which condition had confounded him with symptoms for so long.
Back in 2000, Bob began to feel lightheaded going up and down stairs or walking a long way across the university campus. Also, he would struggle standing up at different times, explaining that he felt like he had a weight on his head.
To compensate, he developed subtle techniques to hide the fact that he was feeling lightheaded. “I would lean back against a table or chair and try to look natural. I was embarrassed to talk openly to my colleagues about my symptoms and didn’t want them to be concerned, so I would often make excuses after we had lunch, telling them, ‘Go ahead. I’ll catch up.’ I knew that I needed time to stand up slowly and steady myself.”
Bob went to a lot of doctors to figure out what was wrong with him, including a neurologist, endocrinologist, pulmonologist and cardiologist. They each tried to fix individual symptoms, but no one put all the pieces together.
So, as any good professor would do, Bob began to do research on his own to figure out what his symptoms could mean. He learned for the first time about the nervous system disorder pure autonomic failure (or PAF). When he brought this up to his neurologist, who is also a movement disorder specialist, his doctor conducted additional tests and eventually confirmed the PAF diagnosis, as well as diagnosed him with an associated condition called symptomatic neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (symptomatic nOH). Bob’s doctor explained that PAF interferes with his body’s ability to control blood pressure and that when he stood up, his blood pressure would drop and remain low, which is what made him dizzy and lightheaded.
Bob finally felt like he was on a track to start managing his symptoms and began a treatment option for symptomatic nOH, called NORTHERA® (droxidopa). NORTHERA is a prescription medicine that has been shown to improve symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness or the feeling that you are about to black out in adults. Please review the full Use for Northera and Important Safety Information below, including a boxed warning for Supine Hypertension. NORTHERA might not be right for everyone, and it’s important to speak with your doctor about what might be right for you.
In addition to prescribing NORTHERA, Bob’s doctor also recommended ways that he could help control his nOH symptoms, including drinking a lot of water, eating lighter meals with fewer carbohydrates (a challenge for pasta-loving Bob!) and adding more salt to his food.
As a way to help others in similar circumstances, Bob became an nOH Champion for Lundbeck (manufacturer of NORTHERA). In this role, Bob is part of a network of patients and care partner ambassadors dedicated to educating and supporting others living with or caring for someone who has symptomatic nOH. By becoming an nOH Champion, Bob shares his story and lets others know that they need to be an advocate for themselves, starting by logging their symptoms and directing them to helpful resources, such as a symptom tracker.
Everyone’s situation is different, but Bob certainly can serve as an inspiration of persistence and fortitude when it comes to advocating for your own health. If you don’t feel that you’re getting the answers you need, don’t give up and keep doing your due diligence until you’re satisfied with the answers and treatment plan.
Always remember that you’re your own best support system.
USE OF NORTHERA (droxidopa) CAPSULES (100 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg)
NORTHERA is a prescription medication used to reduce dizziness, lightheadedness, or the “feeling that you are about to black out” in adults who experience a significant drop in blood pressure when changing positions or standing (called symptomatic neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH)) and who have one of the following:
— Parkinson’s disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disease that causes slowness in muscle movement as well as shaking in the hands
— Multiple system atrophy (MSA), a Parkinson’s-like disorder with more widespread effects on the brain and body
— Pure autonomic failure (PAF), a neurodegenerative disease that results in frequent drops in blood pressure upon standing
— Dopamine beta-hydroxylase deficiency, a condition where the body cannot make enough of the hormones that help regulate blood pressure
— Non-diabetic autonomic neuropathy, an inability to maintain blood pressure upon standing that can be caused by a number of rare diseases
— Effectiveness beyond 2 weeks of treatment has not been established, and your doctor will decide if you should continue taking NORTHERA.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
WARNING: SUPINE HYPERTENSION (this is high blood pressure while lying down)
When lying down, elevating the head and upper body lowers the risk of high blood pressure. Check your blood pressure in this position prior to starting and during NORTHERA treatment. If you experience high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about your NORTHERA treatment.
Do not take NORTHERA if you have a known allergy to NORTHERA or its ingredients.
NORTHERA may cause high blood pressure when lying down, which could lead to strokes, heart attacks, and death. To reduce this risk of supine hypertension, take your late afternoon dose of NORTHERA at least 3 hours before going to bed.
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare but potentially life-threatening side effect reported with NORTHERA. Call your doctor right away and go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these signs and symptoms: high fever, stiff muscles, movements that you cannot control, confusion or problems thinking, very fast or uneven heartbeats, or increased sweating. NORTHERA should be stopped immediately if NMS is diagnosed.
If you have coronary artery disease, irregular heartbeat, or heart failure, NORTHERA may worsen the symptoms of these disorders. Call your doctor if your symptoms become worse.
NORTHERA may cause allergic reactions. Stop taking NORTHERA and contact your doctor right away, or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience any signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction such as: fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, swelling, trouble breathing, hives, or rash. NORTHERA contains tartrazine (FD&C Yellow No. 5), which may also cause an allergic reaction, especially if you have had a reaction to aspirin.
The most common side effects with NORTHERA are headache, dizziness, nausea, and high blood pressure.
Taking NORTHERA with other medications may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if you take prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements.
You should not breastfeed during treatment with NORTHERA.
If you plan to become or are currently pregnant, talk to your doctor as it is not known if NORTHERA could harm your unborn baby.
Take NORTHERA the same way each time, either with or without food.
If you miss a dose of NORTHERA, take your next dose at the regularly scheduled time. Do not double the dose.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Freeman R. Clinical practice. Neurogenic orthostatic hypotension. N Engl J Med. 2008;358(6):615-624.
Mabuchi N, Hirayama M, Koike Y, et al. Progression and prognosis in pure autonomic failure (PAF): comparison with multiple system atrophy. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2005;76(7):947-52.
Low P. Neurogenic orthostatic hypotension: pathophysiology and diagnosis. Am J Manag Care. 2015;21(13 Suppl):s248-57
Heims H, Critchley H, Martin N, et al. Cognitive functioning in orthostatic hypotension due to pure autonomic failure. Clin Auton Res. 2006;16:113-120
Goldstein DS, Sharabi Y. Neurogenic orthostatic hypotension: a pathophysiological approach. Circulation. 2009;119(1):139-146.
Freeman R, Wieling W, Axelrod FB, et al. Consensus statement on the definition of orthostatic hypotension, neurally mediated syncope and the postural tachycardia syndrome. Clin Auton Res. 2011;21(2):69-72.
This post was developed in collaboration with Eisai Inc.
Fit, healthy and happy, my 54-year-old friend Deni wasn’t overly concerned when she noticed occasional spotting, about 15 months after what she assumed was her final period. “I felt anxious though when it became painful to pee. I was constantly bloated, and a strange pressure developed in my pelvic area,” Deni recalled.
A few months later – after finally talking to her gynecologist and undergoing a battery of tests and procedures, Deni’s ultrasound revealed an unusual thickening of her uterine wall. Tissue samples confirmed her fear. She had cancer, endometrial cancer. Before her diagnosis, Deni didn’t even know what that meant.
While many of us are aware of ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer is, in fact, the most common gynecological cancer in the United States, accounting for 90% of uterine cancer diagnoses.
The abnormal growth of cells in the lining of the uterus, endometrial cancer most commonly occurs after menopause, although it’s on the rise among women between 20 and 49 years old.
The causes of endometrial cancer are unknown, but some factors besides age that may increase a woman’s risk are obesity, family history, a high-fat diet, a lack of exercise, and a history of irregular periods. Overweight or obese women are two to four times more likely to develop this type of cancer than women with normal weights, according to the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. So, there’s a possible link between the rise of obesity in the United States and increasing endometrial cancer diagnoses and deaths.
Fortunately for Deni, she was pronounced cancer free following a complete hysterectomy since the malignant cells were confined to her uterus. Thousands of other women, however, aren’t so lucky. Uninformed, they may relate painful urination to a urinary tract infection, bloating with using too much salt, and occasional spotting as just another nuisance after menopause. And, unlike Deni, they don’t seek help, or they wait until it’s too late!
While 84% of white women have an overall five-year survival rate for uterine cancers, the number drops to 62% for Black women. Less likely to have health insurance and adequate access to doctors, only 53% of Black women with the condition get an early diagnosis.
Besides the symptoms Deni experienced, other symptoms can include irregular or heavy bleeding before menopause, and abnormal bleeding or a brownish discharge post menopause. Having an unpleasant discharge might embarrass a woman into silence, but knowledge empowers us to take control of our own health. While these are not all of the possible symptoms of endometrial cancer, recognizing and talking about them with our gynecologists or primary care doctors may help us spot the cancer early, when it may be more treatable.
We all know that when one woman speaks up about her symptoms, other women are encouraged to follow. FORCE (Facing Our Risk Of Cancer Empowered), SHARE Cancer Support, Black Health Matters and Eisai have partnered to launch Spot Her, an initiative to help inspire all of us to know the signs of this serious cancer, spread the word, and speak to our doctors if we’re experiencing symptoms. Not next month. Not next week. But today.
“If you have symptoms, listen to your body and don’t be afraid,” Deni stressed. “Call your doctor. The sooner, the better. If I had waited any longer to speak to mine, the outcome may have been completely different.”
Join us in our pledge to #SpotHerForEC. For the women we love. For the women we are. Visit SpotHerForEC.com for information on endometrial cancer and on the important initiative.
Although it’s your decision – and your decision alone – whether or not to replace your hormones when they leave you, that pivotal life choice must be informed by evidence-based information. Not by fear, ignorance, or what another woman told you in a Facebook group.
Because your hormones are utterly critical to more life functions than you ever dreamed possible!
Learn the indisputable facts – pro and con – about hormone replacement at a real-time, information-packed Zoom Master Class with Dr. James Simon, a world-renowned expert.
Principal investigator on more than 300 clinical trials in the area of women’s health, Dr. Simon possesses such a wealth of knowledge he teaches other doctors about hormones.
Get the straight answers to these big questions -and a whole lot more-straight from the master’s voice.
When should I start taking hormones?
When should I stop?
Do hormones cause breast cancer?
Will hormones give me a heart attack?
If I had breast cancer, can I ever take hormones?
If my period stopped five years ago, can I start taking hormones now?
Hear what every woman must learn to make one of the best-informed decisions of her life.
For her life.
You owe it to your heart, brain, bones and breasts if you want to stay in tip-top shape as you age.
This is an exceptional opportunity you should not pass up.
I want to attend Dr. James Simon’s Real-Time Zoom Master Class on Hormones
Thursday, May 20, 2021
8 pm – 9:30 pm Eastern Time
5 pm – 6:30 pm Pacific Time
(Master Card, Visa and Amex all accepted)
We are compensating Dr. Simon for his time and knowledge. You also will be able to communicate directly with him at the session.
I marvel at Betty White, as bubbly and zestful at 99 years old as she was half a century ago playing perky Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Lucky lady. Betty’s energy inspires me. We all need as much vitality as we can get as we age.
So when my own signature high energy seemed to be decreasing about five years ago, I figured more lunges and less pizza would help get it back. I’ve since learned a startling scientific fact of life: There’s a critical link between how and why we age and the health of the 30 trillion cells in our body. Even if I walk 10K steps every single day and have an insanely healthy diet, my cells just aren’t going to work as efficiently as they did when I was 40 years old.
As a matter of fact, starting in our 40s, we tire more easily, become weaker, have reduced mobility and stamina, and are more susceptible to disease with each passing birthday. Known as Age-Associated Cellular Decline (AACD), it impacts the way we feel!
But now we can have more control over our health than ever before, thanks to phenomenol progress in nutritional science. And the scientists at Nestlé Health Science have figured out that nourishing our cells with targeted cellular nutrients can help them function more like they did when we were young. That means more energy, strength and immunity, and an overall feeling of well being when we’re in our 60s, 70s, even 80s and beyond.
CelltrientTM Cellular Nutrition, Nestle’s exciting new line of supplements and beverages, addresses multiple causes of AACD through the select cellular nutrients GlyNAC, Urolithin A and Nicotinamide Riboside.
KEEPING YOUR STRENGTH AND STAMINA AS YOU AGE
My jaw muscles got a lot more exercise during the last 15 months than the muscles in the rest of my body. Now that I’ve started to be more active after Covid confinement, I see how out of shape I’ve become.
It’s bad enough that our overall strength is impacted by the combination of reduced muscle mass and energy production in our skeletal muscle cells when we’re older. Being sedentary for over a year hasn’t helped. Walking up a hill leaves me breathing more heavily and feeling achy.
Besides moving more, I’ve started taking Celltrient Cellular Strengthto nourish my muscle cells with the nutrient Urolithin A (UA), which helps them renew their power plants and promote healthy muscle function. “Cellular Strength complements our daily exercise routines and gives our cells an extra boost,” stressed Dr. Noelle Reid, a holistic family medicine physician in Los Angeles.
Even if you faithfully exercised during the last year, you should add Celltrient Cellular Strength to your health regimen. Remember, your muscle cells started slacking on the job when you were in your 40s. So they need all the help you can give them now!
Millions of post-menopausal women have vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA), which comes from the loss of estrogen stimulation on the sensitive tissue in these areas. About 30 million women, as a matter of fact, may suffer from symptoms including pain during intercourse, vaginal dryness and vaginal irritation, according to the National Institutes of Health.
If you’re one of these women, Fairhaven Health would like you to try its newSage Personal Moisturizer and Lubricant, a non-prescription formula that can provide temporary relief from vaginal dryness.
Simply fill out the form below to receive your gratis tube.
Four reasons you absolutely want to try Sage Personal Moisturizer and Lubricant:
A clear gel, Sage is neither unpleasantly thick and gooey or so runny that you wouldn’t want to use it during the day. Its fluidity will increase comfort and pleasure during intimacy, but the formula will stay put and work for longer.
Sagesupplements natural moisture in the vagina and provides temporary relief from vaginal dryness during intercourse or daily. Estrogen drives natural production of vaginal fluid, so as estrogen decreases during menopause, natural moisture declines. Sage safely mimics natural moisture and feels as natural as possible.
Sage is water based – without paraben preservatives – which is acknowledged to be best for menopause-related vaginal dryness. It includes clary sage, a botanical with natural antibacterial properties
pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a scale of 0 to 14. A healthy vagina has a pH between 4 and 5 – similar to that of wine – which makes it naturally acidic. Sage has a pH of around 5, which is considered healthy for women as they age.
Complete this form to receive your gratis tube of Sage Personal Moisturizer and Lubricant. Giveaway ends on Monday, March 8th, 2021.
I might be the only woman on the planet who isn’t embarrassed to admit that I have incontinence.
I completely understand if you don’t want to discuss it. But, if you’re one of the 43 percent of women 50 to 64 years old, or 50 percent over 65, I think you’ll want to enter our giveaway for Femaxeen, a new plant-based food supplement that recently hit the market.
Femaxeen is formulated with a proprietary cocktail of ingredients that work together to help the bladder function properly and support lower urinary tract health. It’s effective on stress incontinence as well as on urge incontinence associated with an overactive bladder.
I started taking Femaxeen two months ago and should start to see a marked improvement in the next two months. We’re giving 25 ladies four boxes each so the winners can see noticeable improvement, too. We may not be giving away Kelly handbags, but even a bag that costs $20K won’t impress your bladder.
FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW AND HAVE THE CHANCE TO GIVE YOUR BLADDER A REST. GIVEAWAY ENDS WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2021
If I was dating, I probably wouldn’t tell a new man about my condition, but otherwise I’m upfront: I have incontinence. How can you ever hope to solve your problems if you keep them to yourself? Happily, the folks who are marketing an exciting new drug-free incontinence treatment invited me to try it after they read one of my blogs. More on that in a moment.
Chances are pretty good that you also have incontinence, along with 43 percent of women 50 to 64 years old and 50 percent over 65. Yet, only about one-third of us talk to our doctors, and continue to suffer in silence. If you’re one of the embarrassed non-talkers, please learn from my experience and hopefully you’ll get relief, too.
After taking a popular incontinence drug for years, I abruptly stopped in 2017 when I read that it increased my risk for dementia. I’d rather lose complete control of my bladder than my mind! I refused to take another popular drug instead since that one would increase my risk for high blood pressure, among other side effects. My pressure is normal. So, I began wearing special padded underwear. Function over glamour, ladies!
Femaxeen, the new plant-based food supplement that recently hit the market, seemed promising. Seventy-six (of 81) participants in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study reported “statistically significant improvements” in their incontinence after taking the supplement for 90 days. (Note: Three participants didn’t follow up; and ‘treatment’ wasn’t started in two placebo patients.)
The supplement is formulated with a proprietary cocktail of ingredients that work together to help the bladder function properly and support lower urinary tract health. “Femaxeen is effective on stress incontinence as well as on urge incontinence associated with an overactive bladder (OAB),” said Oscar del Cid, whose company – DNA Biopharm – distributes it in the United States. Monaco-based Axeen Pharma produces Femaxeen. I wasn’t on a date with Oscar, so I talked freely about my bladder.
“Before taking Femaxeen, i didn’t have a sex life. I was like Niagra Falls at night. Thank you for changing that.” – Rhonda D.
A QUICK LESSON IN BLADDER HEALTH
If you’re not versed in the types of bladder issues, here’s a quick lesson.
Stress urinary incontinenceis the involuntary loss of urine during physical activity, such as coughing, laughing or lifting. This happens when the pelvic floor muscles that support the urethra (the tube carrying urine out of the body) and the urinary sphincter muscle (controlling the flow of urine from the bladder) are weakened or damaged by events including menopause, childbirth, trauma and hysterectomy. (I fit into all but the trauma category.) Of the approximate 18 million people affected, women represent 85 percent.
OAB is a sudden, strong and frequent need to urinateoccuring when the smooth muscle in the bladder wall (detrusor) destabilizes and involuntarily contracts while the bladder is storing urine. A normal detrusor muscle will relax during the storage phase and will contract when we pee. OAB may be associated with urine leakage if you can’t get to the bathroom in time. Approximately 13 million women are affected by OAB with incontinence. The exact cause is unknown, but it’s thought that risk factors include vaginal birth delivery, age, obesity and chronic constipation.
“I had to call you. For the first time in over 10 years I wore skimpier shorts because I didn’t have to hide my diaper.” – Donna B.
Our urinary system does its job well when muscles and nerves work together to hold urine in the bladder and then release it at the right time. Nerves carry messages back and forth between the bladder and the brain to signal when the bladder is full and tell muscles when to tighten or release. If these nerves don’t work properly, your bladder won’t either.
Made from UriCyTonin®AFU&I, an exclusive blend of purified pollens extracted from a flower found in Sweden, Femaxeen works with nerves and muscles to support bladder health. The formula also includes pumpkin seed extract for the health of the pelvic floor muscles that control urine flow, and Vitamin E to help protect cells against oxidative stress.
I’ve been taking one Femaxeen tablet daily for the last month – with absolutely no side effects – and can expect to see a marked improvement in my incontinence after about four months, Oscar told me. The results will take longer for women with more severe incontinence, he added. “Many of us want to see results overnight, but the benefits of the formula build up over time,” Oscar stressed. “It’s important to be patient. The outcome will be worth it,” he added.
To inspire us to keep taking Femaxeen, even if we don’t see an improvement as fast as we’d like, Oscar is giving every woman who purchases one or two boxes an equal number of gratis boxes. Shipping and returns are free, too.
If you’re a woman somewhere between your mid 40s and late 50s, have started to sense strange changes in your body, or see and feel actual changes, you need one thing above most everything else: The opportunity to learn what’s happening to your body, what you can do to relieve your physical and emotional turmoil during your midlife transition and a plan for your lifelong health.
Perhaps you’ve developed heart palpitations. Or you suddenly can’t sleep. Maybe you’re running to pee more often. Or gained five pounds even though you haven’t changed your eating habits one iota. Besides feeling completely unsexy, you even feel discomfort while you’re having sex.
You’ve trusted your GP for years, but he or she either says your concerns “are normal and will pass,” tells you to exercise and eat less, or sends you to a cardiologist and urologist. So now you’re taking medication for high blood pressure or cholesterol, but still feel like a hot mess and desperately need to know if there’s anything else you can do to feel better.
The gynecologist you’ve been using for decades doesn’t offer any solutions, either. You feel like you’re losing your mind.
↓↓Sign up below to reserve a spot at Dr. Seibel’s Gratis Master Class in Menopause
Your Great Internist Probably Isn’t A Menopause Expert
Truth is, there are excellent internists and excellent gynecologists – and yours might well be among them – but that doesn’t automatically make them experts in the area of menopause.
That’s because an entire generation of practitioners was never properly trained on the symptoms and health risks of menopause and how to treat menopausal women. This disservice to their health links back to a 2002 report on a landmark health study that falsely claimed menopausal women on hormone replacement therapy are at increased risk for stroke, heart disease and dementia.
Sadly, the havoc wreaked on the healthcare of these women by that report lingers on two decades later – despite the subsequent revelation that the study analysis was flawed.
Mistreated and misinformed, a majority of menopausal women, and those who will join them every year, don’t know where to turn for help.
Chances are, you’re one of these women. And you shouldn’t have to fight to feel better. It should be your right.
You can read any one of the scores of books on menopause, which might be good for general information on the subject. But no book, no matter how well done, can help you interpret what’s going on in your unique body.
A Master Class From a Real Menopause Master
Dr. Mache Seibel has written one of these books – The Estrogen Fix: The Breakthrough Guide to Being Healthy, Energized, and Hormonally Balanced. And, he’s a member of the Harvard Medical School Faculty. Dr. Seibel would love you to buy his book, of course, but even he acknowledges it’s no substitute for talking directly to a menopause specialist about your body.
Zoom in on Menopause With Dr. Seibel
You can have a one-on-one online consultation with Dr. Seibel to help you understand your issues and become a partner in your own health care. Once empowered with knowledge, you can take the steps necessary to improve how you feel and move into this phase of your life with confidence.
But more on Dr. Seibel’s menopause coaching sessions another time. We want to give you the opportunity to meet him first and get his compelling overview of the impact of menopause on a woman’s body.
I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Dr. Seibel and I assure you that what you hear from him will be one of the most important lessons of your life. For your life. We’ll also have time for a Q and A after his talk.
Sign up here. Sign up now.
Fill in the form below to reserve a place at Dr. Mache Seibel’s gratis
Life Line Screening compensated FOF with an advertising sponsorship to write this post. Regardless, I started having its health screenings years before this, and I only recommend products or services that I believe will benefit others. Geri Brin, Founder, faboverfifty.com
Now more than ever, it’s critical to know your risk for Cardiovascular Disease
I’m concerned about being part of a high-risk group if I get the virus that’s turned our world upside down. And, at 73, my lungs and my heart could be even more vulnerable to harm if I had problems before COVID-19 became part of my vocabulary. While lung injury and respiratory problems took center stage as the most frightening complications of COVID-19, Cardiovascular Disease is another.
Alarming facts: About 10 percent of patients with pre-existing Cardiovascular Disease who contract COVID-19 will die, compared with only 1 percent of patients who are otherwise healthy, according to an article in the health blog from Harvard Medical School.
Unfortunately, the absence of symptoms doesn’t mean you’re absolutely free of Cardiovascular Disease. This new viral infection, fever, and inflammation can destabilize heart vessel blockages you didn’t even know you had. This makes it imperative for anyone in the high-risk group to take ownership of your health and do everything you possibly can to avoid hospitalizations by eating right, exercising and getting screened for stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Even without the risks associated with COVID-19, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Now that you’re moving around a bit more freely, one of the first tasks on your agenda should be to understand your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Life Line Screening makes it easy by offering a special package of five preventative screening tests: 1) Atrial fibrillation or AFIB, a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clot, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.2) Peripheral arterial disease, a circulatory condition in which blood vessels narrowed by plaque reduce blood flow to the limbs. P.A.D. usually affects the arteries in the legs, but it also can affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach. Peripheral artery disease may be an indication that plaque is also present in other areas of the body.3) Plaque in the carotid arteries,which are the two large blood vessels on each side of the neck that supply oxygenated blood to the brain, neck and face. The carotid artery narrows and affects blood flow to the brain when it becomes clogged with plaque, and complications can be serious. If any of the plaque breaks off, it can block the blood flow to the brain completely, causing a stroke. Plaque in the arteries can develop over time without causing a singly symptom. 4) Abdominal aortic aneurysm,a bulging, weakened area in the wall of the aorta, which is the largest artery in the body. Over time, the blood vessel balloons and is at risk for bursting or tearing, which can cause life- threatening bleeding and potentially death. 5) Osteoporosis, a loss of bone density or mass.
Life Line has provided preventive screening to millions for 25 years – and at remarkably fair fees – precisely what convinced me to first have its tests in 2010.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In response to COVID-19, Lifeline is taking precautions to protect its customers and employees by following all CDC, state and local guidelines for cleanliness, personal protective equipment and social distancing. Masks are required for everyone; appointments are limited, and temperatures are taken prior to entering a facility.
Life Line Warned Me. I Didn’t Listen
I wasn’t overly concerned when I learned my right carotid artery had mild fatty plaque since it wasn’t a dire threat to my health, at least not immediately. Uncharacteristically, I dismissed the report recommendation to follow up with my doctor, too preoccupied with launching this website at the time. I felt good and had no signs of a problem. My weight was reasonable. I exercised. Didn’t smoke or drink.
My blasé attitude had troubling consequences.
By last year, my weight had spun out of control, I was working out less, and a new ultrasound showed a dramatic increase in the plaque. Now the bad stuff was narrowing the right carotid artery somewhere between 59 and 80 percent. That got my attention, even if there wasn’t a single symptom. If a piece of plaque broke off and blocked the blood flow, I could have a stroke. To make matters worse, my cholesterol numbers were dismal. My doctor started me on statin therapy right away to lower my cholesterol, told me to lose weight, start exercising again, and to take low-dose baby aspirin every day.
Ironically, most doctors won’t recommend screenings for carotid artery or peripheral arterial disease for asymptomatic patients with no family history of stroke or heart attack. What’s more, Medicare doesn’t cover the tests unless someone has experienced symptoms. Without coverage, it’s costly to have tests like this done at a hospital. The United States health system isn’t a shining example of how to practice preventive medicine.
Having no reason to suspect any cardiovascular problems a decade ago, I actually arranged for the first ultrasound through Life Line Screening as a preventive measure. When the original results showed mild plaque, it should have been fair warning not to let myself go. After all, that’s what preventive health care means. That’s what makes Life Line a smart idea.
The Life Line Screening Difference
When Life Line recently contacted me about introducing its screening service to my FOFriends, I didn’t hesitate. After all, they discovered the plaque in my carotid artery at an early stage, not to mention early bone loss, and suggested that I see my own doctor. Pretty foolish not to heed their advice. “Every day we find people across the country with significant carotid artery and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Keith Coffee, Chief Medical Officer at Life Line.
Only $159 For All Five Screenings
“We discovered about 62K overall health risks in 2017 alone,” Dr. Coffee said. A team of highly qualified, board-certified radiologists throughout the country, led by a vascular surgeon, reads all ultrasound images as well as the electrocardiograms for AFIB.
“These are screenings, not diagnostic tests,” Dr. Coffee stressed. “We encourage patients to share their results with their doctors so they can together discuss the appropriate treatment, if necessary.” (Remember, that’s what I didn’t do!) Life Line doesn’t have physicians available who can discuss the test results with patients, and it doesn’t interact with patients’ physicians. They do provide a summary of the results that you can share with your doctor. “We simply provide the incentive for patients to take the right steps for their health,” Dr. Coffee noted.
If Life Line Screening discovers a life threatening condition, however, such as an aneurysm that’s about to rupture, it will send someone right to the ER and call for an ambulance if they wish. “Our customers tell us that we’ve possibly saved their lives. We get letters all the time from people who had no symptoms and thought they were just fine, but were at risk for having a large aneurysm about the rupture,” Dr. Coffee said.
In and Out In 90 Minutes Or Less
Life Line serves 60 cities across the country each day. Teams at the screening sites include at least two ultrasound stenographers who hold certificates in ultrasound technology, and two medical assistants who are cross trained to perform tests including electrocardiograms for heart rhythm, fingerstick blood tests, and peripheral pulses. A nurse practitioner joins most of the teams to see people 65+ years old for Annual Wellness Visits, which are covered under Medicare.
While most people opt for the basic, five-test package I described earlier, many decide to get their cholesterol and glucose checked during the same appointment, Dr. Coffee told me. Life Line Screening offers 15 preventive screening blood tests, including thyroid function, vitamin D, and hemoglobin A1C for diabetes. It also provides a take-home test for detection of colorectal cancer. A call center with 300 trained employees helps participants decide what tests are right for them, based on their age, risk factors and medical history.
Testing is done in churches, at community centers, fraternal organizations and occasionally in hotel ballrooms. When Life Line works with affiliates, such as hospitals, anyone with abnormal results is referred back to the hospital. It also offers exclusive screenings for employees of large corporations as part of their healthcare plans. “Our goal is to get people in and out in 60 to 90 minutes, which includes paperwork and waiting time,” Dr. Coffee said.
The Results Are In
A results package arrives in the mail about three weeks after your screening. It reports on every test you took and on your risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease in general, taking into account factors including smoking, high cholesterol and family history. “We give you all the information we can to help you make lifestyle changes and modifications if you need to,” Dr. Coffee explained. If a major issue such as AFIB is discovered, a Life Line representative will call you directly, rather than having you wait for the results package.
People generally have their first Life Line screenings at 50 years old. “We have patients in their 40s who just want to know where they fit healthwise, or maybe they have a family history of early strokes. And, we have people in their 90s,” Dr. Coffee said. Returning patients account for about half of Life Line’s annual screenings, and close to 90 percent of all patients have their own physicians.
Get preventive screenings once you’re age fifty, whether or not you have symptoms. And pay attention to what you learn.