A simple ultrasound scan of the carotid arteries can reveal the buildup of plaque, which can rupture, travel to the brain and cause a stroke. If detected early, there are several procedures that can help to clear the carotid arteries to prevent a stroke from occurring.
Coronary artery disease screening
Heart disease is the nation’s leading cause of death, and unfortunately, many do not find out they have heart disease until it’s too late. CT is now used to screen for heart disease in otherwise healthy people. The test measures the “calcium score” or the amount of calcified plaque within the coronary arteries. When detected early, heart disease can be effectively treated, and a heart attack can be prevented.
Lung cancer screening
If you’re a current or former smoker, or have other risk factors for lung cancer, a low-dose lung CT screening may be right for you. It is fast, painless and completely non-invasive, and more effective than X-ray at detecting smaller, earlier stage cancers. In many cases, LDCT screening is covered by insurance. Please ask your insurance company if your plan covers you. If not, it is offered as a cash payment option at many hospitals and imaging centers.
Colon cancer screening
CT “virtual” colonoscopy (colonography) is now available at many imaging centers and hospitals. This is a less invasive test to detect the polyps within the colon that can lead to colon cancer. It requires no anesthesia and you can return to normal activities right after the test. Fun fact: Barack Obama was the first U.S. president to have this test, and unlike with previous presidents, he did not have to temporarily transfer power to the vice president—which is required with anesthesia-based procedures.