Joyce Jacobs

Prevention is the Best Medicine: Joyce’s Story

Joyce Jacobs has always loved helping others and taking care of people. A career in nursing was a natural fit for her. Her journey through nursing taught her the importance of self-care, which led her to adopt a healthy lifestyle. She exercised several times a week, ate healthy foods and always stayed on top of preventive care.

When a routine carotid artery screening revealed that Joyce had mild plaque in her left carotid artery and moderate plaque in her right carotid artery, she was shocked. “I thought I was in great shape,” said Joyce. “I had no family history of heart or vascular disease, no risk factors.”

Discover Heart and Vascular Health: Inside the CardioVascular Mobile Health

When she decided to get her screening, Joyce was working as a Nurse Navigator at the Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, which dispatches the CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit (CVMHU).

The CVMHU offers heart and vascular screenings, including screenings for carotid artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, atrial fibrillation, and a cardiac age risk assessment. The team also hosts free education events. Since the screenings take only about 30 minutes and some results are available immediately, Joyce had every reason to get her preventive cardiac screenings, even though she had no concerns.

Preventive Care Matters: The Role of Timely Heart and Vascular Screenings and Follow-Ups

“I had no symptoms. I didn’t feel bad,” said Joyce, who was age 59 at the time. So, she was surprised when her exam revealed she had plaque buildup that was slowly blocking the blood flow in her carotid arteries: mild plaque on the left side and moderate plaque on the right side. “My provider told me not to worry,” said Joyce. “He said it would take years for the buildup to progress, and it might not even happen in my lifetime. Nevertheless, we decided to be careful. I planned on coming back for a follow-up screening appointment.”

Always on top of her preventive care, Joyce intended to get retested. But life got in the way. Her husband passed away, and Joyce concentrated on caring for her family more than herself. Six years later, she finally went to get it rechecked.

The scan showed that the buildup had progressed and was now severe. “I didn’t understand what had happened,” said Joyce. “Because I eat healthy, and I exercise. I do everything I’m supposed to do. Even so, if I hadn’t gotten checked, there’s a probability that I would have had a stroke.”

Within a few months, Joyce underwent a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove the plaque deposits in her right carotid artery. “It was very, very easy,” said Joyce. “And now I go back every six months for a carotid ultrasound, to make sure everything is in good shape.”

Prioritize Your Health: The Importance of Preventive Screenings

Joyce learned a lot from her health scare experience. For example, it served as a valuable lesson on the critical importance of regular preventive check-ups and screenings. And the necessity of follow-up care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 877,500 Americans die of heart disease, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases every year. Heart disease and stroke are the first and fifth leading causes of death in the United States. Joyce recommends that everyone proactively manage their health by utilizing screenings and services like those offered by the CVMHU to avoid unexpected health issues.

St. Elizabeth makes it easy. Screenings through the CVMHU take very little time, are non-invasive and are pain-free. Expert educators are available to help you interpret your results. If any health concerns are identified, they are sent directly to your provider so you can start intervention without delay.

Even though Joyce had healthy blood pressure, healthy cholesterol and no immediate health concerns, she was still at risk for stroke. Joyce’s story reminds us that carotid artery disease often can have no symptoms, so make sure you and your loved ones get checked regularly.

It’s important to get screened if you are between the ages of 40 and 78 and have:

  • A family history of heart disease or stroke.
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Smoked or currently smoke.

Joyce’s journey serves as a reminder of the lifesaving potential of preventive care. Regular screenings can uncover hidden risks and provide a pathway to early intervention, peace of mind and a healthier future.

Don’t wait to take control of your cardiovascular health. The CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit is here to offer you the latest technology and expertise, right here in your community. Visit our calendar listing to find a convenient location near you. You can also get more information or schedule an appointment by calling 859-301-WELL (9355). Appointments are preferred. Insurance is not accepted, so patients should bring cash, check or credit card.

Joyce Jacobs

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Freedom from Smoking is a FREE 7-week tobacco cessation program developed by the American Lung Association and offered to you by St. Elizabeth Healthcare. For additional resources on how to quit smoking, please click here. For more information or to register for the next session, please call (859) 301-5570. Call today. It can be your start to a new life without nicotine!