Disease of the vascular and circulatory system can affect the arteries and veins in every region of the body. If left unchecked, these conditions may unexpectedly present as sudden, serious health emergencies – such as a stroke resulting from atherosclerotic plaque involving a build-up of plaque inside the carotid arteries in the neck or catastrophic bleeding from an aneurysm of a blood vessel in the abdomen or chest. Other disorders of the vascular system may present slowly and gradually worsen over time. These conditions include claudication, or progressive pain in the legs and calves experienced with prolonged walking that is caused by blockages in the arteries in the legs, and venous insufficiency that results in varicose veins and swelling of the legs. These disorders may eventually advance to become serious ailments, resulting in wounds and sores that are difficult to heal. If the wounds are left untreated, this can lead to amputation of the limbs. Vascular surgeons are trained to diagnose, evaluate and treat these conditions.
It is important to be aware of the risk factors for vascular disease. When diagnosed, vascular surgeons make every attempt to improve your risk factors to prevent the development of advanced disease states. Common risks for vascular disease that can be improved include:
- High blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Tobacco and nicotine use.
- Sedentary lifestyle (much sitting and little physical exercise).
Unfortunately, there are risk factors that cannot be improved upon, and these include your family history and age. Consulting with your primary care physician and a board-certified vascular surgeon is crucial when these risk factors are causing issues with your health. With the increasing prevalence of these conditions in our community, early identification with vascular screening of appropriate patients has been shown to be lifesaving.
Like screening for breast cancer in female patients, vascular screening has been shown to identify diseases early and save lives. For example, studies performed after implementing a screening protocol for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) for patients during their “Welcome to Medicare” appointment found that the risk for death related to AAA was reduced 44 percent
. Emergency surgery, which carries a much higher risk than elective procedures, decreased by 50 percent. Keeping in mind that vascular disease can affect many areas of circulation in our body, it is recommended that certain at-risk individuals participate in screening. Most insurance providers, as well as Medicare, offer these services free of charge. As part of our commitment to our community with Prevea Health, we are offering these screening services at our convenient locations near your home.
Appointments can be made by scheduling online or by calling (920) 436-1358