Arterial health is only a scan away

Troy Eden, a local physician assistant and registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer, is using this cardiovascular ultrasonic machine to look at the heath levels of the heart and blood vessels. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

By Gary Mitchell

Although his new business, Clinical Diagnostic Services, is only a couple of weeks old, owner/manager Troy Eden is setting up branch offices in three states.
Clients come to his centers to get a computerized scan, similar to a sonogram used to take pictures of a baby in a mother’s womb, of a blood vessel in the neck or a blood vessel in the leg.
“It’s our goal for the business in Clovis to be the central analysis site for the acquisition centers in other areas,” said Eden, who is a physician assistant, a registered vascular technologist and a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer.
“The technicians send it to me here via our telephone hookups, and I send a report back the next day,” Eden said. “We have office sites in Billings, Mont., Salt Lake City, Utah, and we’ll soon have one in Las Vegas, Nev.”
That scan can tell a lot about the person’s cardiovascular health, Eden said.
“My belief is that we typically deal on the wrong side of heart disease,” he said. “We wait until people have already had a heart attack or stroke. People need to have this kind of testing prior to any symptoms occurring because there’s something we can do about it, especially with the medications we have now.”
Taking these tests have been proven scientifically to reduce people’s risks up to 60 percent, Eden said.
“But people say, ‘Why would I want to know that (I have high risk factors)?’ That’s based on the assumption there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said. “But that’s not true. You can do something about it. This test is by far the earliest indicator of arteriosclerosis. We try to find people in their 30s or 40s to let them know how their cardiovascular health is progressing. Then they have more opportunity to get back on a right road. We offer them the opportunity for greater information they can share with their doctors.”
Eden said 25 to 30 percent of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels, so it’s the other factors that make the difference.
“People say, ‘It’s just a man’s disease,’ but it’s the number one killer of women,” he said. “Everybody preaches early detection. Well, this is a way of early detection.”
Eden’s sister, Tuni Theonnes, is a registered nurse who operates a satellite site in Billings, Mont.
“The public is really receptive, and people want the test,” she said. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls, and we have a lot of scans scheduled. We’ve been open a little more than a week. We don’t have an office yet, so we take the test to where the people are. They love the idea of a technician coming to their home.”
Theonnes said she needed a change after serving for 29 years in critical care.
“It’s time for people to get proactive — and not reactive — about health care,” she said. “It may take a while for the medical community to accept the idea of it. It’ll just take time.”
Eden said his office offers four tests to people — all based on research and scientific literature.
Digital sonography offers the best way of identifying risk factors for the least money, Eden said. The primary screening — known as quantitative intima media thickness — measures the average thickness of a portion of the carotid artery, a vessel that supplies blood to the brain.
Numerous studies show thicker blood vessel walls mean higher risk for heart attacks. The images also show buildup of plaque on the wall of the artery, which increases the risk for stroke.
“It may sound complex, but everything we do is simple, inexpensive and backed up by tons of literature,” he said. “We want to work with people’s doctors to institute a primary cardiovascular (heart and stroke) prevention program. That’s what we do.”
In 2000, the American Heart Association endorsed the procedure as part of a complete cardiovascular diagnostic evaluation. Clients at risk will be urged to talk to a doctor about possible treatment options, Eden said.
Patients are given a copy of an image of their blood vessel along with a chart comparing the thickness of their carotid artery to ideal thickness, Eden said.
“We look at the sum of all your risk factors, and how those risk factors are affecting your arterial health today,” he said.
Eden stressed that Clinical Diagnostic Services of Clovis will not provide patient care or treatment recommendations. Only a doctor’s office should provide that, he said.
Eden came to the Clovis-Portales area not long ago.
“My wife, Dr. Kirin Madden, is a doctor, a family physician at Cannon Air Force Base,” he said. “She just finished her residency at the University of Utah, and Cannon was her first duty assignment. I started my business there in Salt Lake City.”
Eden said Clovis has been enjoyable so far.
“It hasn’t been that bad,” he said. “I love the people of Clovis. Right now, I’m doing all the cardiovascular diagnostics out of Roosevelt General Hospital, and I’m also doing the cardiac diagnostics in Tucumcari. I go there once a month. My business here in Clovis is just getting started. I still want to meet with the doctors in the area. I’ve been doing what I do for 20-plus years.”