RICHMOND (WRIC)—Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States each year and many times, there are no symptoms.
The Heartbeat Bus is a clinic on wheels making its rounds in Richmond this month.
"If you want people to actually take advantage of preventive tests, you have to bring it to them," said Terry Diaz, CEO of HealthFair.
Dr. Bethany Denlinger goes down the checklist of cardiovascular disease risk factors—high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise. With those, Lacey passes with flying colors.
"There are some surprises, though," Denlinger said. "People come in with family histories and they don't have many risk factors and they do have heart disease."
The screening can be quick and painless. An ultrasound examines the structure and function of the carotid arteries.
"That's a common place for plaque to build up," said sonographer Mike March. "That could lead to a stroke, so we want to make sure that artery is healthy and nice and open."
March swipes the left side of Lacey's neck, then the right.
Lacey still has a few years to go until the recommended age of 50, but March says the regular work-related stresses she experiences meeting deadlines could add up.
"It's sort of accelerated when they all come together like that," he said.
Next, March scans for peripheral vascular disease. He sees how the blood pressure in Lacey's lower legs compares to that in her arms.
It can detect any hardening of the arteries or plaque buildup.
The cuffs are tighter than they are during a routine blood pressure screening, but it's over almost as soon as it starts.
These two heart disease tests took 20 minutes of Lacey's life, but could ultimately save it.
"Find it before it happens; it's a lot easier to treat," Denlinger said.
"There are options in terms of what you can do are more wide open as soon as you go to that secondary disease, then it becomes much more difficult to take care of," Diaz said.
This Heartbeat Bus offers six screenings costing $175, compared to the estimated $3,000 price tag on them at a doctor's office.
Neither test detected any kind of problem, but Lacey is encouraged to share the results with her own doctor, to come up with a long-term plan to keep her heart healthy.
For more information about the Heartbeat Bus, click here.
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