Carotid Screening A Step In Stroke Prevention

Tomorrow is "Go Red for Women" Day, designated by the American Heart Association for women to wear red as part of heart disease and stroke awareness.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Many of those deaths can often be prevented with a simple, non-invasive screening.
Nancy Countryman had 90 percent blockage in her carotid artery, the artery that directly supplies the brain with blood.
The real estate agent first knew something was wrong when she began to suffer from severe headaches.
"These headaches were really terrible," she says. "They'd go away but I had them so often, my husband had to bring us home, we were showing a house. I had such a bad headache. So, I knew we better find out what's causing this."
Her physician peformed a carotid screening which detected the blockage. That basic screening led to surgery that ultimately saved Nancy from a potentially deadly stroke.
"Any physical exam should include a screening of the neck with a stethoscope," says Dr. Todd Bengtson of Trinity Clinic Vascular Institute. "Most primary care physicians are attuned to that." Nancy's first symptoms were her severe headaches. Dr. Bengtson says there are several other warning signs to look for.
"They can include mini-strokes which are called T.I.A's, which are just intermittent symptoms of leg or hand clumsiness or paralysis that can result very quickly. Also intermittent blindness."
Nancy continues to undergo ultrasounds, to make sure the artery is still free from blockage. She says she's grateful for the carotid screening that saved her from a stroke.
"I feel very lucky and I think people should be aware of any signs. Not so that they become overly suspicious, but just be smart."
Being smart, paying attention to the warning signs, and getting screened, gave this real estate agent, a new lease on life.
As part of "Go Red for Women," free health screenings will be offered on Friday, May 21. The screenings will be held in Tyler at the Salvation Army's Women's Auxiliary Building from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. That's located at the corner of E. Bow and N. Spring Streets.
The screenings will be followed by a special luncheon.

Story by Maya Golden,