Sunday, March 11, 2012

North Dakota company woos Manitobans for echocardiograms

North Dakota company woos Manitobans for echocardiogramsA North Dakota company is wooing Manitobans nervous about their health to cross the border for quick screening tests they might wait weeks or months for in Canada. But the head of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's cardiac sciences program warns people considering heading south might be wasting their money. Simple Tests That May Save Your Life! shouts the headline of a flyer inserted into the Free Press earlier this week by North Dakota-based Mobile Life Screening. An echocardiogram (ECHO), which uses sound waves to create a picture of your heart, was advertised for $399. A "complete wellness package" that includes the ECHO and several other tests was priced at $498. Long waits for diagnostic tests, such as echocardiograms, have been an ongoing issue in Manitoba. Last year, the wait for non-urgent patients was 44 weeks. That has since been cut to 22 weeks. Yet, the lure of a quick test is hard for some Manitobans to pass up. But Dr. Alan Menkis, medical director of the WRHA's cardiac sciences program, pictured right,says an echocardiogram is a wasteful way to screen the general population for potential heart problems. "Unless there's an indication that there's a problem, or an indication that you have to look for a problem, using an ECHO as a screening test is really a waste," he said in an interview

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