News at Banner Desert Medical Center  

Types of screenings

blood pressure check  

Routine care and health assessments can help lower our health risks, including ones that may be hereditary. Mammograms, blood pressure, colon, and skin tests allow for early detection and the possibility for more treatment options. You may need certain screen tests earlier, or more often than others, depending on your personal risk factors.

"It's not any different than taking a car for a tune-up,” says Siddharth Bhende, MD, a vascular surgeon at Banner Desert Medical Center. “Your body’s not going to operate very well if you don’t check on it once in a while.” He recommends asking about tests your doctor orders so you know why they’re necessary and what to expect. To get you started, here are the basics on some common tests.

Heart Health Check
Why you? Understanding your risk for heart disease can help you determine steps to make healthier lifestyle choices.
What happens? You will meet one-on-one with a registered nurse and exercise specialist who will assess your blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, body fat percentage and cardiac risk assessment.
Fearless factor: A simple finger stick gives the results needed. Sometimes you will have a little bruise on your finger as a result.

Stroke Screening
Why you?
The key to preventing a stroke is managing your risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high total cholesterol or high blood sugar. The best way to learn about your risk factors is through a stroke screening.  A risk factor can be treated with lifestyle changes and/or medication before it leads to a stroke.
What happens? Complete a form that documents your medical history. Your blood pressure and pulse will be taken. A finger-stick blood sample gives information about your cholesterol levels. A carotid ultrasound is completed to make sure there are no blockages in the arteries that supply oxygen to the brain. The final step is talking with a medical expert. They will go over your results and provide an action plan for you to reduce your risk.
Fearless factor: Just a pin prick on your finger to obtain a small amount of blood. A carotid ultrasound is painless. Gel is placed on each side of your neck. A handheld device is moved along your neck that sends and receives sound to create pictures of your carotid arteries.

PAD Screening
Why you?
If you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), you have greater risk of having a heart attack. Risk factors for PAD include: blockages in the coronary arteries, previous or current smoking, diabetes and leg discomfort or leg fatigue when walking a short distance.
What happens? You will have a finger stick to obtain a very small amount of blood to run your cholesterol profile. Your blood pressure will be taken, your leg circulation will be evaluated and an ultrasound of the carotid and abdominal vessels will be done. When you are finished, you will have a consultation with a physician or nurse practitioner.
Fearless factor: A simple finger stick may result in a little bruise on your finger. Ultrasounds are painless.

Why you?
A colonoscopy lets a doctor see early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum, or to diagnose unexplained changes in your bowel habits.
What happens? First, you’ll get pain medication and a mild sedative so you can stay relaxed and comfortable through the test. You’ll lie on your side and the physician will insert a long, flexible lighted tube into your rectum and guide it into your colon. If anything abnormal is seen, the doctor may be able to remove it with the use of a tiny instrument passed through the scope. This sample (or biopsy) is then sent to a lab for testing.
Fearless factor: The test takes only 30 to 60 minutes, and the sedative you’re given should let you drift off into a dreamy sleeplike state during the test. Most people would describe it as mildly uncomfortable, but not painful.

Skin Exam
Why you?
From the moment of first exposure to the elements, our skin goes through changes. The accumulation of some of these changes can make us susceptible to skin cancer, particularly if we are fair skinned, have red, blonde or light brown hair and blue or grey eyes.  These changes can be gradual and we might not notice a potentially dangerous condition developing.
What happens? A thorough skin exam involves a physician looking at all areas of the body for the types of changes that indicate a problem such as an unusual mole or other pigment change, a rough, scaly patch or an area that isn’t healing.  Sometimes they use handheld microscopes or special lights to identify sun damage.
Fearless factor: The exam is quick, painless and is usually required only once per year. Don’t let your modesty put you at risk.

Why you?
If you’re a woman older than 40, speak with your doctor to determine whether you need annual mammograms. You may need one earlier than 40 if you notice possible signs of breast cancer or have a family history of the disease. Mammography can detect breast cancer at the earliest stages, when it’s easiest to treat.
What happens? A technician places your breast on a platform where it’s compressed with a paddle to improve image quality. The process, which involves a few different positions, will be done on each breast and only takes about 15 minutes. Your doctor will have the results in a couple of days.
Fearless factor: You may be slightly uncomfortable, but the value of the information is surely worth the brief discomfort. Many centers now offer mammo pads that lessen the pressure.

Article published in Your Desert Your Health, Fall 2011

Banner Desert Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Road
Mesa, AZ 85202
(480) 412-3000
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