Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and many people don’t realize they’re at risk. As many as one in four people die due to heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular-related events each year.
Since heart disease can exist without obvious symptoms, you may not be aware of your risk. A vascular screening is an excellent tool for better understanding whether or not you should be concerned about heart disease.
Our expert providers at Maryland Cardiology Associates in Greenbelt, Maryland, recommend and administer vascular screenings often so our patients can make adjustments to mitigate their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Vascular screening consists of tests to make sure your arteries are carrying blood efficiently from your heart to your extremities, that your carotid arteries are keeping your brain supplied with blood, and that your abdominal aorta is functioning properly.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
PAD is extremely common—around 18 million people in the United States have it, and your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, being hospitalized, or dying is more than 20% higher if you have it.
The main symptom of PAD is cramping in your calves when you walk which eases when you rest. It’s very easy to overlook this problem, in part because it develops slowly, over time, and in part because you expect some degree of muscle fatigue when you’re exerting yourself.
The reason your muscles cramp when you walk is that the arteries supplying them with the blood they need to function well are blocked by a build-up of plaque. The plaque both narrows your blood vessels and makes them stiffer. If you have plaque build-up in the arteries of your legs, those in your heart are likely affected as well.
Carotid artery disease
You have two carotid arteries, one on each side of your neck. These are big blood vessels that do the important work of making sure your head and brain have enough blood. When they become clogged by plaque, you have carotid artery disease and a much higher risk of stroke.
Most people don’t have any symptoms when they have early-stage carotid artery disease. In fact, you may not have symptoms until you have a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) which is a temporary shortage of blood to your brain.
During a vascular screening, we use a specialized ultrasound called a carotid doppler to check the blood flow through your carotid arteries.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
Your aorta is the largest artery in your body, and one branch of it runs through your abdomen. When your abdominal aorta is blocked, serious issues with your intestines, kidneys, and legs can result.
We make sure your blood is moving through your abdominal aorta as it should be with an abdominal aortic ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create an image of this important blood vessel.
Get your vascular screening
If your doctor recommends you have a vascular screening, don’t delay. Each of the tests is simple and painless, but has the power to save your life.
Schedule your appointment at Maryland Cardiology Associates for a vascular screening to assess your risk of cardiovascular disease. Call our office today or book a visit online anytime.