Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., topping accidents, diabetes, and even cancer. Vascular screenings make it possible to detect problems within the heart and cardiovascular system that could be risk factors for heart attack or stroke. Often, these tests pinpoint conditions that patients are not aware of. By identifying these conditions early, it may be possible to treat them before they become serious and adopt healthy lifestyle habits that can help prevent complications in the future.
There are many different types of vascular screenings, each of which may be indicated for different purposes. Examples include:
Echocardiograms are frequently used to assess the structure of the heart and its ability to pump blood through the body. During this painless test, gel is applied to the chest and a smooth wand is passed over the heart. This wand transmits high-pitched sound waves into the body, where they bounce off the heart and form a visible image for the doctor to assess.
Electrocardiograms are used to determine the health of a patient’s heart beat. Electrodes are placed on the chest, where they can detect an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation).
This screening is used to detect the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is often a silent condition that can pose life-threatening complications if not detected. This ultrasound checks the size of the aorta within the abdomen and identifies bulges that could become serious. Though painless and non-invasive, this screening does require patients to fast in the few hours immediately before the procedure.
This is another non-invasive screening that checks for plaque accumulation within the carotid arteries of the neck. Since these arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the brain, this screening can help pinpoint risk factors for stroke.
This non-invasive screening is painless and fast. It uses an ultrasound device to measure systolic blood pressure in the legs and arms while pressure cuffs are applied to the ankles and upper arms. This helps detect plaque build-up and hardening of the arteries which could lead to blockages, heart attacks, and other complications in the future.
Vascular screenings are not for everyone. Although the decision to perform vascular screening is between Dr. Hammad and the patient, these types of assessments are most appropriate for patients who are at an increased risk of vascular disease. There are many different risk factors, some of which include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arterial blockages, a family history of stroke, or a previous heart attack.
If you are concerned about your risk for heart disease or are not aware of your current cardiovascular health, contact our office to schedule your consultation and find out if vascular screening could be right for you.