Visualizing What's Inside Your Heart

posted by Amanda Schany on Thursday, February 9, 2023

Our hearts. They tick. They skip a beat. They fill with joy, swell with pride and race with happiness. They keep us going each and every day, often without us considering what we need to do to keep them healthy and if they are at risk for a major health incident.

Your heart and vascular systems are complex subjects that deserve comprehensive care. Thankfully, a whole world of heart care is available through Spencer Hospital with the next step in heart and vascular prevention: Planet Heart. Two different screening programs are offered, a heart check and a vascular screening. People can opt to do one or both screening tests.

Planet Heart’s Heart Check is a cardiovascular risk identification and reduction program operated by Spencer Hospital, using guidelines established by the Iowa Department of Public Health. A heart check is recommended for men age 40 years and older and for women age 45 and older. Depending on your results, our Planet Heart educator will advise you regarding when you should return for another screening in the future.

The program includes the following screening components:

  • Calcium score CT (read by a radiologist)
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass index
  • Waist circumference
  • Diet Quality Index
  • Cholesterol and blood sugar

Upon completion of the above screening components, one of the Planet Heart educators review the results with participants. Participants are given education regarding their results taking into consideration their moderate or high-risk factors. Participants are also educated about stress management and physical activity.

The Planet Heart Stroke Check, or vascular stroke screening, consists of an ultrasound of the carotid arteries in the neck, an ultrasound of the abdominal aorta to check for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and then the technologist will apply blood pressure cuffs to your arms and ankles.  The pressures at those points determines how well blood is getting down your legs, testing your circulation.  

Each screening costs $50 or you can choose both screenings for $100. The majority of our patients opt to do both parts of the Planet Heart program, but you do have the option to do one or the other.  Individually, the various tests are valued at several hundreds of dollars; however, Spencer Hospital realizes the importance of these screening exams and offers these at an affordable rate. This program is not covered by insurance, so payment is taken on the day of the exams.

A physician’s referral is not necessary for either screening exam.  To schedule, call Spencer Hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging Center at (712) 264-6181. The results of your Heart Check will be reviewed by a radiologist. The results will be sent to your physician. It is your responsibility to initiate a follow-up examination to confirm any of the results and obtain advice and treatment with your physician.

The results of your Vascular Screening will NOT be reviewed by a physician on staff at Spencer Hospital. Board certified Ultrasound technologists will go over your results with you and will send to your physician. It is your responsibility to initiate a follow-up examination to confirm any of the results and to obtain advice and treatment with your physician.

Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, the Planet Heart screening program can help you and your health team identify your heart disease and stroke risks at a treatable stage. During the many years we’ve provided Planet Heart screenings at Spencer Hospital, we have seen first-hand that this program saves lives.  We encourage you to take care of your heart – and know your heart health.

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About The Author

Amanda Schany

Amanda Schany serves as the Director of Diagnostic Imaging, Women's Health Services, and the Visiting Specialist Clinic of Spencer Hospital.