Your vascular health plays an essential role in your overall health, which means that keeping an eye on it regularly is a good idea. Although a vascular health screening may not be the first thing to come to mind when it comes to considering your overall health screening schedule, checking on your vascular health regularly is an important step in making sure your arteries and veins are adequately supplying the rest of your body with the nutrients it needs to survive.
Here are some of the most important things to know about why your vascular health is important, how often it should be checked, and what a vascular screening typically looks like.
Key Things to Know About Vascular Health
Your arteries and veins play an important role in carrying blood throughout your body, which is an essential aspect of delivering oxygen and other nutrients to all your organs and cells. This means that taking steps to make sure they are as healthy as possible is an important part of keeping your heart, brain, and the rest of your body healthy. Arteries that are in poor health may significantly disrupt the flow of blood throughout your body, which can lead to stroke, a heart attack, or gangrene/limb loss. Venous disease can involve serious issues such as clot formation (deep vein thrombosis) and pulmonary embolism (clot that travels to the lungs). Venous disease can also involve more lifestyle limiting issues like symptomatic varicose veins. Although your arteries and veins may seem less important than major organs at first glance, their health is essential when it comes to preventing several types of serious medical conditions and boosting your overall health.
Vascular problems typically involve preventing blood from flowing through your arteries as freely as it should. This problem is often caused by a buildup of plaque that reduces the amount of space your blood has to flow through, and it may also be linked to arteries that are not as strong as they once were and are no longer capable of carrying blood as efficiently as they used to.
Veins that become pressurized over time can lead to varicose veins that can become painful, heavy, and cause generalized leg discomfort. In some instances, veins can also form clots that can travel to the lungs and be dangerous by causing shortness of breath and heart dysfunction.
Recommended Vascular Health Screening Timeline
Although the specific vascular health screening timeline your doctor recommends can vary significantly depending on your family history of vascular problems and other risk factors, we generally recommend that people with an elevated risk of developing a vascular health condition be screened every three to five years to check for possible blockages or other signs that treatment may be needed. That would include those who are 50 and older who smoke, have high cholesterol, or have a family history of vascular disease (stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, kidney failure, or abdominal aortic aneurysms). You should also begin vascular health screenings at age 40 if you have diabetes, and potential complications associated with this condition may mean that more frequent testing is important for you. The type of tests a vascular health screening may include are:
- A carotid ultrasound that checks to see if there are any blockages in your carotid arteries
- An abdominal ultrasound that checks the size of your aorta to make sure an aneurysm isn’t present
- An ankle/brachial index that compares the blood pressure of your ankles to the blood pressure of your arm to determine if there are any arterial blockages in the legs
- Other tests your doctor may consider necessary
Consult a Vascular Specialist for In-Depth Understanding of Vascular Health
A vascular specialist can conduct more complex testing that reveals details about how your vascular health may be impacting the health of your heart, brain, and other parts of your body.
The Cardiovascular Care Group’s noninvasive vascular lab gives us a wide range of options for conducting more extensive testing that can help us assess your overall vascular condition, diagnose potential problems, and provide treatment recommendations if your test results indicate a possible cause for concern.
Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of having your vascular health checked by a board-certified vascular specialist regularly.