Vascular Screenings – Vascular Ultrasound

Northwest Vascular Diagnostics understands the importance of preventing vascular disease. That is why we strive to help our patients live healthy, active lives. However, diet and exercise are not the only factors that affect your risk for vascular disease. Heredity plays a large part as well. If you have two or more of the following risk factors, we recommend you consider getting a vascular screening exam today:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Age over 50
  • Obesity
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
  • Family history of stoke
  • Family history of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

Carotid Artery/IMT Screening

Strokes remain the third leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 700,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke each year and 500,000 of these are first time attacks.1 Cerebrovascular disease often goes undetected because many patients don’t have any symptoms before these attacks strike. One way to prevent a cerebrovascular accident (stroke) is to have a screening exam of the carotid arteries to check for dangerous atherosclerosis (plaque) build-up.

Also included in this carotid artery screening is a measurement of the intima-media thickness (IMT) of the arteries. Recent studies have suggested that the thickness of the carotid arteries can give insight to a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease.2 If caught early, changes in lifestyle and medication can decrease this risk by decreasing the thickness of the artery. Using state-of-the-art edge detection software with ECG gating, we are able to determine a patient’s IMT measurement, compare it to those of a similar age, sex, and ethnicity, and determine whether a patient is at low-risk, average, or increased risk of cardiovascular disease.3

The screening exam will include an ultrasound of the carotid arteries in your neck to evaluate for plaque build-up and intima-media thickness. Results of your exam will be available immediately.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening

About 15,000 Americans die each year due to an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA). An aneurysm is a weakening of the arterial wall, causing it to expand. AAA’s are often referred to as the “silent killer” because the vast majority of people who have an aneurysm have no symptoms. Generally, AAA’s are silent until they rupture, in which case only 10-25% of patients survive to be discharged at the hospital following repair. This means that AAA’s have a 75-90% fatality rate.4

It is for this reason that AAA screenings are such an important part of prevention. The vascular screenings exam will include an ultrasound of your abdomen to evaluate the size of the abdominal aorta. Results of your exam will be available immediately.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Screening

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) affects about 8 million Americans. PAD is a disease that affects the peripheral arteries, most commonly in the legs. Blockages in the arteries that feed the legs cause pain due to insufficient blood flow. These blockages are caused by atheroslcerosis (plaque) attached to the arterial walls. The most common symptoms of PAD include pain in the leg(s) that increases with walking (intermittent claudication) and/or constant pain in the leg(s) that is relieved by dangling the foot (rest pain). Only about 10% of patients with PAD experience the classic symptoms of intermittent claudication, while 40% of patients complain of no symptoms at all. The remaining 50% of patients with PAD complain of a variety of leg symptoms different from the classic signs of claudication.5 If left untreated, this lack of blood flow can cause ischemic ulcers, gangrene, and can ultimately end in the affected leg being amputated. Even more cause for alarm is the fact that PAD is an indicator of systemic atherosclerotic disease that is building in other arteries in the body as well. If this atherosclerosis is building in the coronary arteries of the heart or the carotid arteries that feed the brain, this can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

A PAD screening exam will include an ankle-brachial index (ABI). This is a procedure that compares the blood pressure in the arms to the blood pressure at the ankles to determine if the legs are receiving adequate blood flow. During the exam, the technologist will wrap blood pressure cuffs around your arms and ankles and take blood pressures using a hand-held Doppler device. Results of your exam will be available immediately.

Cost

Unfortunately, screening exams are not reimbursable through Medicare or most other insurance providers. However, in keeping with our commitment to prevention, Northwest Vascular Diagnostics is pleased to be offering these screening exams to our community for a small fee of $50 per screening exam or $129 for all three.

To schedule an appointment please call us. Appointment times are available Mon – Fri from 7:00 – 5:30.

References

  • The Internet Stroke Center. Stroke Statistics. St. Louis, Mis: Washington University; 2009.
  • O’Leary DH, Polak JF, Kronmal RA, et al. Carotid-artery intima and media thickness as a risk factor for myocardial infarction and stroke in older adults. Cardiovascular Health Study Collaborative Research Group. N Engl J Med. 1999.
  • McClelland RL, Chung H, Detrano R, Post W, Kronmal RA. Distribution of coronary artery calcium by race, gender, and age; results from the Nulti-Ethcnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Circulation 2006;113:30-7.
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Statistics.Accessed 3/16/09.
  • American Heart Association. Peripheral Arterial Disease Statistics—2008 update. Dallas, Tex: American Heart Association; 2007.
  • AAA screenings may be covered under some Medicare plans.