What Is a Life Line Screening?


Quick Answer

A Life Line screening is a series of tests that a for-profit medical screening company conducts to check for abnormalities leading to maladies such as heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis, reports NPR. The company typically sets up mobile facilities in community centers and churches, often in partnership with surgical centers and hospitals, and promotes the screenings with advertisements. Medical researchers warn that some of the tests can harm rather than help people without symptoms.

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Although Life Line spokespeople claim that the company's tests help people detect health problems in time to treat them and make preventive lifestyle changes, medical researchers and health advisory panels almost unanimously affirm that they are largely counterproductive, explains NPR. The screening methods provoke many false positives that make patients fearful and cause them to pursue more aggressive and potentially harmful testing. For instance, carotid artery screening, which seeks stroke-inducing plaque accumulation in neck arteries, is the American Academy of Family Physicians' list of procedures to avoid. A false positive can lead to further screening, testing and surgery that increases a patient's risk of stroke.

Some patients credit Life Line screening with saving their lives, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some health care professionals posit that certain subsets of patients may benefits from ultrasound screenings, such as elderly patients who have cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.

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