(NewsUSA) - Vascular disease is among the leading causes of death in the U.S. Symptoms, however, often are not present until a catastrophic event occurs, like a stroke or aneurysm rupture. Millions of Americans at risk for stroke or death from vascular disorders remain unaware of the danger.
"Vascular screenings are the best way to locate blockages in arteries and help you avoid serious disease," said Anil Hingorani, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and member of the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS). "These are painless, noninvasive tests (like an ultrasound examination or Doppler pressure studies)."
Dr. Hingorani said that if your cartoid artery is not clear, vascular disease can lead to stroke, leg artery blockages and limb loss, and even travel to the brain and cause paralyzing strokes.
Vascular disease can cause potentially lethal aneurysms of the aorta (AAA), the main artery of the body. The probability of AAA in the general population is low but increases with the following risk factors: increasing age, male gender, white race, smoking, family history of aneurysms, history of other vascular aneurysms, hypertension, atherosclerotic diseases, cerebrovascular disease and high cholesterol.
According to the SVS, a one-time ultrasound screening for AAA is recommended for all men 65 years or older, and for all women 65 years or older with a family history of AAA or who have smoked. Re-screening patients for AAA is not recommended if an initial ultrasound scan performed on patients 65 years of age or older demonstrates an aortic diameter of less than 2.6 cm. However, because of their risk factor, men who have a family history of AAA may be screened as early as 55 years of age.
Vascular disease also can impair circulation or cause peripheral arterial disease in the legs, leading to reduced ability to walk and in some cases, leg amputation. Early screening can slow or stop the progression of the disease process and identify individuals who may be at risk for heart attack and stroke due to blockages.
To learn more about your vascular health, visit the SVS website at www.VascularWeb.org.