Men Should Get Vascular Screenings During Men’s Health Month
June is National Men’s Health Month, and men are encouraged to pay special attention to their health during this month. While health exams should be done on a regular basis, this month is the perfect time to schedule an appointment for an annual physical, eye exam, dentist visit, and vascular screening so that you can get a status check-up on your health.
Importance of Vascular Screenings for Your Blood Flow
In addition to the exams that people are most familiar with, there is one area of the body that the majority of people (men and women) never really think about getting checked. It’s something you don’t see in the mirror every morning, and it is one of the most important parts of your body – the vascular system.
Your vascular system (also referred to as your circulatory system) is made up of vessels and veins that carry blood, oxygen, hormones, and nutrients throughout your body. Without the vascular system, your body would not be able to fight disease or maintain a stable internal environment — such as proper temperature and pH — known as homeostasis. That’s a big job that goes on 24 hours / 7 days per week from the day you are born; therefore, making sure your vascular system is in good condition is very important.
3 Types of Vascular Diagnostic Tests
There are three very important diagnostic ultrasound tests a vascular specialist can perform. Ultrasound produces images of the body by using high-frequency sound waves, and these sound waves create echoes which are used to create both moving and still images. The images are displayed on a screen as the ultrasound is performed, allowing a vascular specialist to make a diagnosis effectively.
Peripheral Arterial Ultrasound
This test is done to diagnose peripheral artery disease (PAD), a circulatory disorder in which arteries narrow and restrict blood flow to the rest of your body. Leg pain and leg cramps are some of the common symptoms of PAD. A peripheral arterial ultrasound is a non-invasive two-part test that consists of using an arterial Doppler for the first part of the test. If the results are abnormal, then a Duplex ultrasound device is used to look at the artery and find the blockage causing the decreased blood flow.
During this arterial test, your blood pressure is taken with a cuff at the arm, thigh, calf, ankle, and toe, and an ultrasound device is moved across the area to detect blood flow through the areas before and after the blood pressure cuff is inflated. The only side effect is a little cramping when the blood pressure cuff is inflated. The peripheral arterial ultrasound test usually takes less than an hour and you can return to their regular activities immediately after.
Carotid Duplex Ultrasound
The carotid arteries are two major arteries in the human body. You have one carotid artery on the left and right side of your neck, and they supply your brain with blood. When the carotid arteries narrow and get clogged, serious complications arise and even death can occur.
A Carotid Duplex Ultrasound is a special test that can detect abnormalities in the carotid arteries. This non-invasive, diagnostic test sends high-frequency sound waves and generates images of the arteries in the neck. A Carotid Duplex Ultrasound is performed when a person has had a stroke, an abnormal sound in the carotid artery is identified, past or current blood clots exist, or there is a damage to the walls of the artery.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Ultrasound
The abdominal aorta refers to the part of the aorta artery between your diaphragm and the legs. The main aorta artery carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the legs. An aneurysm is a localized, balloon-like expansion in a blood vessel, caused by weak vessel walls; thus, when a bulge occurs in the abdominal aorta, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
A vascular specialist will use an abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound to identify any abnormalities, the possible presence of an aneurysm, and how extensive the damage may be. Although an abdominal aortic aneurysm can develop in anyone, typically people who are smokers (at any age) and people who are over the age of 60 and have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or heart disease are at risk. If you fall into any of these categories, a regular screening is recommended.
You Only Get 1 Body – Take Care of It!
You only get to have one body in your life, so taking care of your health is your responsibility. We strongly encourage men to be proactive by getting preventative medical check-ups done versus waiting to get medical attention with a symptom or condition has worsened.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most men’s health issues can be prevented when they are detected early. Unfortunately, when it comes to wellness screenings, men have a poor track record compared with women. In addition, the CDC reports that as of 2015, the life expectancy in the United States for men is 76.4 years in comparison to 81.2 years for women.
It’s very important for men to make their health a priority in order to lead a longer, healthier life. Remember that your family loves you and depends on you, so please take the steps to get preventative care from a doctor. The risk of vascular disease increases for men at 40 years and older, although it can begin to develop before age 40 depending on your lifestyle factors (i.e.. smoking, diet, obesity) and your personal and family medical history (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and more).
If you have never had a vascular screening and especially if you experience unexplained leg pain and leg cramps, be sure to request an expert consultation and diagnostic vascular screening from our board-certified vascular physicians during June – #MensHealthMonth. Each of our modern medical offices and vascular outpatient centers, in Maryland and Pennsylvania, provide a safe, convenient, comfortable environment, and our friendly staff helps to make you feel relaxed.