Public Citizen Claims Life Line Screening Ads for Heart Disease, Osteoporosis, Are Deceptive

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson

The prominent consumer watchdog Public Citizen indicates that advertisements by the heart disease and osteoporosis screening company Life Line Screening are deceptive and misleading, calling for a federal investigation. 

On January 22, Public Citizen sent a letter (PDF) to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking that it investigate the advertising and promotional activities of Life Line Screening . According to the group, the company uses “direct-to-consumer marketing to promote inappropriately broad, nonselective cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis screening to people across the U.S.”

Life Line Screening performs a variety of health screening tests, using ultrasound, finger-stick blood analysis and electrocardiographs, according to the company’s website.

“There is evidence that the company’s advertising and promotional materials contain numerous statements that may be deceptive within the meaning of the Federal Trade Commission Act,” the letter states. “These materials make unsubstantiated medical-benefit efficacy claims about Life Line Screening’s cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis screening package and omit information material to consumers regarding the risk of adverse health-related outcomes and financial harms that may result from this indiscriminate screening.”

While Life Line Screening maintains that a physician reviews each screening and the results are sent to customers detailing their risk categories, Public Citizen claims that the company overstates the use of such tests and does not follow current medical guidelines.

“The most egregious claims in this regard are those explicitly stating or strongly implying that the package of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis screening tests offered by the company saves lives, improve health, and prevent strokes and other cardiovascular diseases,” the letter states. “These statements claim that Life Line Screening’s package of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis screening tests have helped save thousands of lives since 1993 and prevent strokes and other types of cardiovascular disease. More broadly, such statements misleadingly imply that the company’s cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis screening package saves lives and prevent strokes and cardiovascular disease when used in unselected, asymptomatic individuals in the general population age of 50 or older, regardless of their cardiovascular or osteoporosis risk factor profiles, which is the very consumer population targeted by Life Line Screening.”

The group urges the FTC to look at the company’s advertising practices over the last two decades and force the company to provide scientific evidence from clinical tests to substantiate its claims. If the FTC finds evidence of misleading marketing tactics, Public Citizen calls for the commission to force the company to reimburse millions of consumers who have purchased its screening tests unnecessarily.

According to Life Line Screening, the company has conducted more than 8 million such tests.

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  1. Lenora Reply

    I have been having Life Line screenings for many years. At first my doctor dismissed the results but lately has appreciated receiving them. It is merely a tool to guide you. You can’t really act on the results without seeing a doctor and if nothing is wrong, that should be a comfort. The costs are low for what you receive. Try going to the doctor and having the same tests for the same cost. Besides, the doctor needs a symptom to give you all those tests. I don’t know how many uninsured/underinsured people take advantage of the tests offered by Life Line, but I really think this might encourage them to have the tests without the expense of seeing a doctor. One friend was fortunate enough to have the Abdominal Aortic test which revealed an aneurysm that needed surgery. She had no idea anything was wrong. In the 8 million tests that Life Line has conducted I doubt if there have been anywhere near the number of unnecessary screenings or harm done to patients as there have been in conventional unnecessary tests/medications/surgeries. Anyone who purchased the tests for any other reason than “information only” probably has made some other purchases they might want reimbursed.

  2. HC Platta Reply

    I completely agree with PC in their evaluation of this reportedly controversial for profit organization.

  3. Jackie Reply

    The life screening is a joke and very misleading. After they contacted my husband and I several times telling us how it nights save our lives we decided to do the screening. We were both cleared and told we had no problems. During the test my husband was put through a very painful 15 minutes with the nurse trying to get results on his right carotid artery in his neck. After several minutes she called over another nurse to try. She said she had a hard time reading his heart beat or something to that effect. After several more minutes she said he was good and no problem. A few weeks later the results came in the mail and showed no problems. A few months later my husband became ill. Test were ordered and found out he had 90% blockage in right femoral artery, 70% blockage in right femoral artery and his right carotid artery in his neck was 100% occluded! Because of the life line test results showing no problems he could have died had I not insisted we recheck be a real doctor in a real doctors office!!! So their test don’t save lives they could very well be causing people not to seek needed medical attention so we basically they are fraud.

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