Preventative Health Screenings

Early warning test for stroke?

Strokes seem to come out of the blue. But most of them happen due to decades-long damage to blood vessels and growth of artery-clogging plaque. That raises the question: Is there an early warning test for stroke, Yes and no. A test called the carotid ultrasound can detect the buildup of cholesterol-filled plaque in the carotid arteries in the neck. These arteries deliver blood to the brain. The test, which uses sound waves, is quick, safe, and without any immediate potential for harm. It makes perfect sense for someone experiencing lightheadedness, memory loss, or the warning signs of a stroke or mini-stroke.

Carotid Artery Disease Screening

The key to preventing cardiovascular disease, also called coronary artery disease (CAD), is managing your risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high total cholesterol or high blood glucose. But how do you know which risk factors you have? The best way to find out is through screening tests during regular doctor visits.

“Regular cardiovascular screening is important because it helps you detect risk factors in their earliest stages,” an American Heart Association volunteer. “This way, you can treat the risk factor with lifestyle changes and pharmacotherapies, if appropriate, before it ultimately leads to the development of cardiovascular disease.”

For many patients, screening results can serve as a wake-up call. “Higher than optimal cholesterol or body mass index, for example, may drive home the message that it’s time to modify your diet and get more physical activity. When the test comes back and you see abnormal numbers, it becomes personal. Suddenly, the idea of making lifestyle changes isn’t just a recommendation in a pamphlet. It’s something that can impact your life and health.”

Recommended Screening
How often?
Starting When?

Blood Pressure

Each regular healthcare visit or at least once every 2 years if blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg

Age 20

Cholesterol
(“fasting lipoprotein profile” to measure total, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides)

Every 4-6 years for normal-risk people; more often if any you have elevated risk for heart disease and stroke

Age 20

Weight / Body Mass Index (BMI)

During your regular healthcare visit

Age 20

Waist Circumference

As needed to help evaluate cardiovascular risk. This is a supplemental measurement if your BMI is greater than or equal to 25 kg/m2.

Age 20

Blood Glucose Test

At least every 3 years

Age 45

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

An abdominal aortic aneurysm, also called aortic aneurysm, occurs when the large blood vessel (the aorta) that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs becomes abnormally large or balloons outward. This type of aneurysm is most often found in men over age 60 who have at least one or more risk factor, including emphysema, family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking.

This ultrasound screens for an enlarged blood vessel in the abdominal area that can cause severe bleeding and death if it ruptures. If your blood vessel is enlarged, surgery can often correct it.

An aortic aneurysm screening is beneficial because it catches the condition early on to prevent emergency surgery. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a weakened and bulging area in the lower part of the aorta, which is the major blood vessel that supplies blood from the heart into the body. The aorta, which is about the thickness of a common garden hose, runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen. The abdominal aortic screening is very beneficial as most aortic aneurysms occur in the part of your aorta that’s in your abdomen. Because the aorta is the body’s main supplier of blood, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding immediately. Although you may never have symptoms, finding out you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm can be frightening. However, if an AAA is detected early enough treatments are available.

Unfortunately, none. If rupture occurs; the possibility of death is about 80-95%. Once an aneurysm reaches 5-6 cm in diameter the risk of rupture is extremely high and typically requires surgery immediately, unless other medical factors make surgery a potential risk.

Although there are no warning signs of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, there are some factors you can use to determine if one has occurred. They included:

  • Sudden, intense and persistent abdominal, chest or back pain
  • Pain that radiates to your back or legs
  • Sweatiness
  • Clamminess
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fast pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shortness of breath

Risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysm are:

  • Being a male over age 55
  • Women over the age of 65 with cardiovascular / heart disease risk factors
  • Tobacco Use
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of heart attacks and/or disease

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is an age-dependent condition that limits ambulation and compromises quality of life in an estimated two million Americans. Early detection and treatment is essential for minimizing the signs and symptoms of PAD. People who have P.A.D. may have symptoms when walking or climbing stairs, which may include pain, numbness, aching, or heaviness in the leg muscles. Symptoms also may include cramping in the affected leg(s) and in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Symptoms may ease after

A quick, easy and non-invasive procedure, PAD screening is done by using the ankle-brachial index (ABI). After removing your socks and shoes, you will have pressure cuffs placed around your upper arms and ankles.

Many people who have peripheral artery disease (PAD) don’t have any signs or symptoms.

Even if you don’t have signs or symptoms, ask your doctor whether you should get checked for P.A.D. if you’re:

Peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.) affects millions of people in the United States. Older age also is a risk factor for P.A.D. Plaque builds up in your arteries as you age. Older age combined with other risk factors, such as smoking or diabetes, also puts you at higher risk for P.A.D.

Many diseases and conditions can raise your risk of P.A.D., including: