INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Her father died of a stroke at age 69, so by the time Karen Cunningham was in her mid 60's she started to think about her risk of the same fate.
She smoked for decades and had other risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure.
So when Cunningham saw the opportunity to get a screening that would check her vascular system, she signed up.
The TriVascular screening is similar to the ultrasound women receive when they are pregnant. But instead of checking on the baby, the images reveal how well blood is flowing through your abdomen, legs and carotid arteries in your neck.
That's where Cunningham had an issue.
"We found out she has a blockage in the carotid artery on the left side, and it was to the degree we consider to be critical," said her physician, Dr. George Sheng a St. Vincent vascular surgeon.
Her blockage was more than 80 percent, which met the criteria for surgery.
"I kind of wanted to have surgery done as soon as possible because that kind of scared me," Cunningham said.
Post-surgery ultrasounds revealed significant improvement in her blood flow and prognosis.
"She was a perfect candidate to be screened, and it saved her life," Sheng said.
Cunningham had no symptoms and simply thought the screening would give her peace of mind.
Despite her family history, she was shocked to realize she really was at high risk for stroke.
"You find things and you are not expecting. I'm glad I had it done," Cunningham said.
The screening is recommended for adults 55 years and older who have at least two risk factors:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Smoking (Current or Past)
- Heart Disease
- Family History of arterial disease, stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm or peripheral artery disease
What is a TriVascular Screening?
According to St. Vincent, this ultrasound test is "painless, takes less than 30 minutes, and helps detect clogged, damaged or weakened blood vessels.
- Carotid artery check for plaque/blockage
- Aorta check for abdominal aortic aneurysm
- ABI-blood pressures on arms and ankles to check for peripheral arterial disease
To learn more about the TriVascular Screening and if you qualify for Check Up 13 this month, click here.