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Disease Info & FAQ’s

Get the Facts About Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. It encompasses a broad range of conditions and diseases, some of which are genetic, and many of which are the result of lifestyle choices.

Common Types of Heart and Vascular Diseases
There are many different types of diseases that can affect the heart and vascular system. Learn about some of the most common conditions.

          AAA – Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Most abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) are asymptomatic, sometimes detectable on physical examination, and dangerously silent until discovered during a physical exam or during an imaging exam. Tobacco use, hypertension, a family history of AAA, and male sex are clinical risk factors for the development of an aneurysm. Ultrasound, the preferred method of screening, is cost-effective in high-risk patients. Symptomatic aneurysms present with back, abdominal, buttock, groin, testicular, or leg pain and require urgent surgical attention. Rupture of an AAA involves complete loss of aortic wall integrity and is a surgical emergency requiring immediate repair. The mortality rate approaches 90 percent if rupture occurs outside the hospital.

          Venous Disease

Venous disease is quite common — about 15 percent of the adult population is affected. Mild venous disease is usually not a problem for patients, but as venous disease worsens, it can become crippling chronic venous insufficiency. If the vein walls become weak or damaged, or if the valves are stretched or injured, the system stops working normally and the blood begins to flow backward when the muscles relax. This creates unusually high pressure in the veins, resulting in even more stretching, twisting, and swelling of veins. The abnormal veins with their sluggish blood flow create disorders/ venous disease known as varicose veins, phlebitis venous stasis ulcers and venous thrombosis

          Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

This type of cardiovascular disease involves atherosclerosis—hardening and narrowing—of the coronary arteries, producing blockages in the vessels that carry blood to the heart. Atherosclerosis happens over time, slowing blocking arteries and eventually restricting blood flow to the heart. It is usually the cause of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

          Heart Attack

Also called “myocardial infarction” (MI), a heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is severely reduced or cut off, due to the hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries from the build-up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, known together as “plaque.” A blood clot forms around the plaque, blocking blood flow. This results in permanent damage or death of part of the heart muscle.


This condition refers to any change in the normal sequence of the heartbeat. It involves the electrical impulses of the heart—not the arteries or blockages. These electrical impulses may happen too fast, too slow, or irregularly, which causes the heart to beat the same way. When the heart doesn’t beat normally, it can’t pump blood effectively to the lungs, brain, and other organs, causing them to potentially shut down or become damaged.

          Heart Failure

While a serious condition, heart failure does not mean that the heart is no longer working. Heart failure is when the heart’s ability to pump is weaker than normal. Blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate, pressure increases in the heart, and the heart can’t supply enough blood and oxygen to the body’s cells, resulting in fatigue and shortness of breath.

          Congenital Heart Defects

Different than other types of heart conditions, congenital heart defects are present at birth. These defects are not a disease, but rather an abnormality that occurs while a fetus is developing. Examples include a leaky heart valve or malformations in the walls that separate the heart chambers. Some heart defects may produce symptoms at birth or during childhood, while others aren’t discovered until a person is an adult. Treatment may or may not be needed, depending on the severity of the defect.


A progressive disease that causes the heart to become abnormally enlarged, thickened, and/or stiffened, cardiomyopathy (also known as heart muscle disease) limits the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood effectively. This often leads to other heart conditions such as heart failure or arrhythmia.

          Peripheral Artery Disease

A type of vascular disease (diseases that affect the circulatory system), peripheral artery disease occurs when fat and cholesterol deposits, or “plaque,” build up in the peripheral arteries, which are the blood vessels outside the heart. This build up (also called atherosclerosis) narrows the artery walls, restricting the amount of blood flow to the body’s tissues. Depending on the arteries where the blockage occurs, this can lead to stroke,  heart attack, renal (kidney) artery disease, and other serious conditions.

While there is a wide range of heart and vascular conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, there are some general risks and warning signs to watch for. If you suspect you have heart condition, talk with your primary care doctor, who can recommend or administer diagnostic tests and screenings.

General Questions:

Q: What are the primary risk factors for CVD (cardiovascular disease) including PAD (peripheral arterial disease) – PVD (peripheral vascular disease)?

A: The American Heart Association AHA has identified several risk factors that increase the risk of CVD. The first three we have no control over and these are age; gender (men have a greater risk of heart attack); and heredity (family history of heart disease). Other risk factors that can be controlled are smoking; high cholesterol; high blood pressure; physical inactivity; being overweight; and diabetes.

Q: What if the results indicate that the participant is not at risk for CVD?

A: They are advised to continue their healthy lifestyle and to continue to follow up with their health care provider regularly.

Q: What if abnormal results indicate that the participant is at risk for CVD events such as stroke or ruptured aneurysm?

A: Every abnormal participant is provided with a detailed report. In the event of any finding which, based on established medical protocol, falls outside of the normal range that participant is advised to follow up with their health care provider immediately.

Q: What is the difference between a screening and a full diagnostic study that is received at a doctor’s office or hospital?

A: A screening is for the purpose of identifying potentially significant disease processes so that the individual participant may then take those findings to their physician, immediately. Your private physician, and in some cases emergency room doctors,then determines if additional diagnostic studies are necessary to quantify the extent of the disease and/or the percentage of blockage. Screenings ‘identify’ and diagnostic studies ‘quantify’. The advantage of a screen, as opposed to a diagnostic study, is that it is inexpensive, readily available, and reliable. There are limitations to ultrasound such as a persons body fat percentage and stomach gas so they are not 100% accurate, whether one is talking about cardiovascular screenings, PAP smears or mammograms. They do, however, provide valuable information that could be life-saving.

Q: What type of equipment is used?

A: State-of-the art equipment, the Mindray M7 cardiovascular ultrasound system, provides mobile, high-performance, and full-featured imaging. This is the same ultrasound technology found in hospitals and clinics. Additionally, heart rhythms are measured using a rhythm strip analysis to look for the presence of atrial fibrillation, and blood pressure cuffs and ultrasound probes are used to look for restricted blood flow to the lower extremities. Preventive maintenance is performed on all SmartHealth equipment on a regular basis.

Q: What are the qualifications of SmartHealth ultrasound technologists?

A: Our ultrasound technologists are CCI and ARDMS registered cardiac, abdominal and vascular sonographers. Some work for local Bay Area vascular surgeons, imaging centers, cardiologist, vein centers and Stanford Hospital and Clinics. We work with physicians from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo. Our technologists are also licensed through the ARDMS or CCI as RVT, RDCS, RDMS, RVS, and RPhS.

Q: Who interprets the screening data obtained by the ultrasound and medical technologists?

A: All ultrasound imaging exams and data are interpreted by MD (Medical Doctors) specifically trained to read diagnostic ultrasound studies. Our doctors also read for hospitals and private practices in the area and for other parts of the country through teleradiology.

Q: Are these screenings covered by insurance?

A: Medicare* and insurances typically do not cover the cost of most preventive screenings. Sometimes policies contain preventive care/wellness coverage which may or may not apply. For those who wish to check with their insurance carrier, we will provide an itemized receipt for payment of our screening services, which can then be submitted to determine coverage. Coverage for preventive health care differs from policy to policy and employer to employer.
(*Medicare does cover an AAA screen for a limited group of Medicare recipients, talk with your physician for a prescription for your free Medicare screening)

Q: How long does it take to have my screening performed?

A: Average screenings take only 30 minutes per person.

Q: How long does it take to get the Results Reports?

A: Participants receive their confidential reports within 3-4 days of the date of the screening.

Q: Will I receive copies of the actual screening data?

A: In the event that a participant has significant or abnormal findings with respect to the Cardiac, Carotid Artery Ultrasound, the AAA Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Ultrasound, the EKG for arrhythmia including Atrial Fibrillation or the Peripheral Vascular Disease exam, in addition to the Results Report, they will receive instant results to take with them when they seek follow-up care with their family doctor.

 Q: Is Ultrasound Laboratories Inc. DBA SonoTech Imaging and SmartHealth Screening insured?

A: Yes, we are fully insured. SmartHealth is licensed by the CA Secretary of State and insured to do business in California. Ultrasound has no known bio effects. It has no radiation and is completely noninvasive.

Q: How accurate are SmartHealth’s screenings?

A: No screening can be 100% accurate, but ultrasound technology offers a highly accurate (regarding specificity and sensitivity)  means of visualizing arterial plaque causing stenosis and blockage, aneurysms, and venous valve reflux; at the same time is safe and non-invasive. Internal protocols, highly qualified technologists, state-of-the-art mobile equipment, and qualified reading physicians, all combine to provide a more accurate screening.

Q: Are you affiliated with any hospitals or corporations?

A: We have partnered with El Camino Hospital in Mountain View assisting with varicose vein screenings. Bay Area hospitals can contact us to assist in their community preventative health screening events at 408-829-6486.

Q: What happens if a serious problem is detected at the screening event?

A: SmartHealth Screening has emergency protocols in place, established with our Medical Director, which cover situations involving critical findings. We have an Interpreting Physician on call, and if a critical finding is detected by the technologist, the physician will be consulted, and participants will be notified to seek immediate medical attention. Participants will also receive documentation, including images, of the abnormal finding that they will be able to share with their medical provider. Our personnel are CPR-trained and we have Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) available at each of our screening events.

Q: Can an individual get a CVD health screen if he/she has a pacemaker?

A: Yes. A pacemaker will not interfere with the screenings. Our tests involve zero radiation and do not involve magnets or needles. These tests are non-invasive vein, artery, and cardiac preventative and wellness health exams to alert someone of potentially life changing cardiovascular disease processes that may be unknowingly manifesting.

Q: If my doctor orders an exam, can SmartHealth Screening perform this diagnostic ultrasound for my ordering physician?

A: Yes. Smart Health and SonoTech Imaging works with vein clinics, hospitals and surgeons in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Campbell, Los Altos, Mountain View, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Fremont, Watsonville, San Luis Obispo, and San Francisco. We examine patients with prescription and orders from their Medical Doctor. Our registered technologists are qualified to perform screenings and full exams for diagnostic use. Your physician of choice will receive a copy of your results. We will bill your insurance company directly with your doctors order.

Screening Preparation:

Q: Can a participant eat or drink anything before these screenings?

A: We recommend that participants do not eat or drink anything (except water) within 2 hours prior to the screening, as food/drink ingestion may interfere with the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screen or other abdominal ultrasound studies. You may be given specific instructions including up to a 6 hour request for diet restrictions to optimize your image quality for the reading physician.

Q: What should a participant wear to the screening?

A: It is best to wear loose clothing for easy access to the body; a short sleeve and open neck shirt/blouse for easy access to the upper arm and chest area; and no pantyhose, stockings or restrictive footwear for easy access to the ankle area.

Q: What is Ultrasound Laboratories Incorporated dba SmartHealth Screening and SonoTech Imaging privacy policy for patients?

A: SmartHealth takes the utmost care with individuals’ privacy and voluntarily complies with all applicable HIPAA rules and regulations. For more information, see our privacy policy on our website



Right to Notice As a patient, you have the right to adequate notice of the uses and disclosures of your protected health information. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA), Ultrasound Laboratories, Inc. can use your protected health information for treatment, payment and health care operations. a) Treatment – We may use or disclose your health information to a physician or other healthcare provider providing treatment to you. b) Payment – We may use and disclose your health information to obtain payment for services we provide you. c) Health care operations – We may use and disclose your health information in connection with our healthcare operations. Healthcare operations include quality assessment and improvement activities, reviewing the competency or qualifications of healthcare professionals, evaluating provider performance, conducting training programs, accreditation, certification, licensing or credentialing activities.

Your Authorization Most uses and disclosures that do not fall under treatment, payment, health care operations will require your written authorization. Upon signing, you may revoke your authorization (in writing) through our practice at any time.

Emergency Situations In the event of your incapacity or an emergency situation, we will disclose health information to a family member, or another person responsible for your care, using our professional judgment. We will only disclose health information that is directly relevant to the person’s involvement in your healthcare.

Marketing We will not use your health information for marketing communications without your written authorization.

Required by Law We may also use or disclose your health information when we are required to do so by law.

Abuse or Neglect We may disclose your health information to appropriate authorities if we reasonably believe that you are a possible victim of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence or the victim of other crimes. We may disclose your health information to the extent necessary to avert a serious threat to your or other people’s health or safety.

National Security We may disclose the health information of Armed Forces personnel to military authorities under certain circumstances. We may disclose health information to authorized federal officials required for lawful intelligence, counterintelligence and other national security activities. We may disclose health information of inmates or patients to the appropriate authorities under certain circumstances.

Appointment Reminders We may use or disclose your health information to provide you with appointment reminders via phone, e-mail or letter.

Your Rights as a Patient You have the right to restrict the disclosure of your protected health information (in writing). The request for restriction may be denied if the information is required for treatment, payment or health care operations. -You have the right to receive confidential communications regarding your protected health information. -You have the right to inspect and copy your protected health information. -You have the right to amend your protected health information. -You have the right to receive an account of disclosures of your protected health information. -You have the right to a paper copy of this notice of privacy practices.

Legal Requirements Ultrasound Laboratories, Inc. is required by law to maintain the privacy of your protected health information. We are required to abide by the terms of this notice as it is currently stated, and reserve the right to change this notice. The policies in any new notice will not be in effect until they are posted to this site, or are available within our office.

Complaints If you have complaints regarding the way your protected health information was handled, you may submit a complaint in writing to our office. You will not be retaliated against in any manner for a complaint.

Information about Ultrasound Laboratories, Inc.’s privacy policies, please contact Joseph Matthews at the following address or phone number: ULI, PO BOX 4864, Mountain View, CA 94040 (408) 829 6486