Check Patients for Cardiovascular Disease Using These 6 Screenings
Many patients are apprehensive about cardiovascular tests, worrying that they will be invasive, time-consuming, or painful. At Vasolabs, we understand the importance of early screenings and making sure patients feel motivated and empowered to come in for testing. Medical practices that partner with Vasolabs find that their patients enjoy and appreciate our quick, non-invasive testing options.
A healthy cardiovascular system requires each organ to be in good condition in order to perform properly. Thorough screening means focusing on all three aspects of cardiovascular health: heart, arterial, and vascular function.
Screenings for Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in developed countries, and the risks only continue to increase as time passes. As a result, it is now more important than ever for patients to have cardiovascular screenings done to assess their heart health.
There are a variety of tests available to diagnose and monitor heart disease that analyze the heart’s structure, how well blood flows through blood vessels, and how well the chambers of the heart pump blood. There are two primary methods of screening for heart health: cardiac catheterization and echocardiogram.
In some cases, practitioners will prescribe invasive tests such as a cardiac catheterization in which a small tube is inserted into an artery toward the heart to measure the pressure in the heart’s chambers. A dye may also be injected through the catheter so that X-rays can be taken to monitor blood flow through the heart. This invasive procedure can be a deterrent for patients, putting them at a greater risk of developing heart disease if they are too apprehensive to come in for testing.
At Vasolabs, we use a non-invasive procedure called an echocardiogram to monitor how the heart functions. This test will be able to assess the size of the patient’s heart, how strong the muscles are, issues with the heart valves, and structural abnormalities. An echocardiogram at Vasolabs only takes about 30 minutes, and is completely safe and painless, making it a more appealing option for patients.
Screenings for Artery Health
Carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) is closely linked with coronary artery disease, and should be used as an indicator of how likely a patient is to develop atherosclerosis.
There are two layers of the carotid artery called the intima and the media. Measuring the thickness of the plaque that has accumulated along the walls of the arteries is critical to long-term health, even if a patient is still asymptomatic.
One of the standard tests used to detect signs of coronary artery disease (CAD) in high risk patients is an invasive coronary angiography. This test is an invasive procedure in which dye is injected into the arteries using a catheter so that X-rays can be taken. The dye helps to highlight the blood vessels in the X-ray images to check for narrowing or blockages.
At Vasolabs, we utilize Carotid IMT (CIMT) and Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) testing to predict future cardiovascular events. Both tests are non-invasive, safe, take only 20-30 minutes, and use painless ultrasound technology to scan for evidence of arterial issues.
Carotid IMT (CIMT)
CIMT testing is used to determine the age of a patient’s carotid arteries by examining subtle changes in their thickness. Not all patients experience symptoms of atherosclerosis, so early screenings can help identify warning signs, helping physicians develop comprehensive treatment plans for their patients.
Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) testing
Physicians use ABI testing to examine how well the blood is flowing in a patient’s legs. This test is used to screen for signs of peripheral artery disease that may restrict oxygen levels in the limbs. Patients with peripheral artery disease are at a greater risk of stroke and heart attack, so proper screening is imperative to detect signs of disease and implement treatment to avoid a cardiovascular event.
Many physicians will conduct a physical examination of the patient to determine how well their veins are performing. This may include checking the patient’s pulse, blood pressure, and taking X-rays of the veins. While physical exams can sometimes identify warning signs, more comprehensive testing is often necessary to paint a clear picture of how well a patient’s veins are working.
The Importance of Cardiovascular Screenings
One in every four deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among adults of all ages and races across the country. Heart disease refers to a number of heart conditions such as coronary artery disease (CAD), congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve issues. All of these conditions significantly increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke, and often have a negative impact on a patient’s quality of life.
In many cases, heart disease can be controlled and treated with lifestyle changes and certain medications, improving quality of life as well as life expectancy. This highlights the importance of cardiovascular screenings that can catch early signs of heart disease.
Cardiovascular testing can be done even before a patient becomes symptomatic if they have a higher risk due to genetic predisposition, diet, or lifestyle. Catching the early warning signs of heart disease can help to save thousands of lives every year, and can help identify heart issues before symptoms begin to affect a patient’s quality of life. Experts recommend getting cardiovascular screenings if a patient:
- Is over the age of 45
- Has a family history of heart disease
- Has high blood pressure
- Has high cholesterol
- Lives a sedentary lifestyle
- Is obese
- Has diabetes
Vasolabs provides sophisticated, non-invasive ultrasound diagnostics for all facets of cardiovascular disease. Establishing a thorough baseline of a patient’s health allows healthcare practitioners to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for patients with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. We are proud to provide screening options that are fast, convenient, and painless to encourage more patients to follow through with testing.