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Did you know that every 40-seconds someone suffers a heart attack? Did you know that someone dies every four minutes from a heart attack? The chances of a heart attack occurring can be reduced, if not prevented all together; it can be done. And, it begins with a simple, non-invasive, potentially life-saving screening being offered at Harlingen Medical Center, one of the top-rated hospitals for cardiovascular care in the country.

The screening, Preventative Vascular Screening, is a limited special engagement that is being offered at the award-winning and nationally recognized hospital during the month of February, National Heart Month.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500,000 heart attacks occur each year and 75% can be prevented with the utilization of an ultrasound screening and proper physician follow-up.

“That is why we are offering the Preventative Vascular Screening. This will allow our MRI Technologists to perform a simple, but highly effective analysis on the Carotid Artery, Abdominal Aorta, and Peripheral Arteries,” said Roy Castillo, Director of the Radiology and Imaging Department at Harlingen Medical Center. “This screening will allow our team to identify any issue that needs to be addressed, giving us the opportunity to care for the patient, in advance, before the issue develops into an urgent medical condition, or worse.”

During the Preventative Vascular Screening, an MRI Technologist will first screen the carotid artery for buildup of fatty plaque. Left untreated, the fatty plaque may lead to a stroke, also known as a brain attack. A stroke occurs when plaque stops the flow of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts.

The MRI Technologist will then screen the abdominal aorta. This will search the aortic artery for the presence of an aneurysm, also known as an enlargement, which occurs when part of the artery wall weakens and widens abnormally, or balloons out. Left untreated, a ruptured aneurysm may lead to instant death.

Finally, the MRI Technologist will screen the peripheral arteries for plaque buildup in the lower extremities (legs). Left untreated, the plaque may lead to the development of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), also known as atherosclerosis. PAD is also known to cause and possibly more serious health complications.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who survive a heart attack sometimes do so with lasting consequences. Some of these life-changing consequences include:

  • Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body.
  • Problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment and memory.
  • Problems understanding or forming speech.
  • Difficulty controlling or expressing emotions.
  • Numbness of strange sensations.
  • Pain in the hands and feet.
  • Depression.

“A medical episode, such as a heart attack, may not only affect someone who is older in age – it may also affect younger adults,” said Jorge Gomez, RN, Trauma and Stroke Programs Coordinator at Harlingen Medical Center. “People need to know what the symptoms are in case they, or someone they know, or see, begin to experience them.”

According to Gomez, everyone should know some of the more common symptoms of a stroke, which, include:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on the side of the body.
  • Confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination.
  • Severe headaches with no known cause.

“It is so important that people waste no time when they suffer a stroke. They must receive medical attention immediately,” said Gomez. “Receiving medical attention immediately is crucial to saving the patient’s life and crucial to preventing a disability for those who survive. 9-1-1 must be dialed immediately.”

There are minor changes people can make to their daily lifestyle, according to Gomez, that can help prevent a heart attack and or a stroke. Some of these lifestyle changes include:

  • Exercising regularly.
  • Eating a healthy diet that’s low in sodium.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Prevent or control diabetes.
  • Minimize your alcohol intake.

The Preventative Vascular Screening is quick and easy. It can be completed during a lunch break from work. This, again, is a non-invasive screening. It is completed by the scanning of the skin in the respective areas. All three vascular screenings are performed at the Radiology and Imaging Department at Harlingen Medical Center, located at 5501 S. Expressway 77 in Harlingen, Texas. The cost of the vascular screening is a nominal $139.00. Cash and credit cards are accepted. Medical insurance companies usually do not cover the cost of this screening.

If you would like to register for the Preventative Vascular Screening, please contact the Scheduling Department at Harlingen Medical Center at 956-365-1839.

Click here to view Prevention Vascular Screening flyer.

About the Cardiovascular Care Program at HMC

The Cardiovascular Care Program at Harlingen Medical Center is paving the way for progressive treatment of patients from across South Texas. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and our top-ranked heart team provides minimally-invasive diagnostic testing and treatment, as well as advanced cardiac and vascular interventions, such as angioplasty, stenting, cardiac ablation, open heart surgery, minimally invasive heart valve repair and replacement, and coronary artery bypass graft.

To learn more about this program and Harlingen Medical Center, log on to our website at