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Peripheral vascular screening anyone?

Everyone is screened for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, some cancers and obesity each year during your physical with your primary care physician. 

Have you ever wondered why you are not screened for peripheral artery disease, carotid artery disease, or an aortic aneurysm?  The answer is likely that you are not in the risk group and you do not have symptoms.

On this blog over the next couple of weeks, I will share with you the risk factors for each of these diseases, so you better understand if you are at risk and if you are a good candidate for screening. 

For starters lets talk about peripheral artery disease. It is important to be aware of peripheral artery disease because it is a significant marker for premature death, so identifying issues early is important. 

If you answer yes to most of these, then it would be a good idea to speak with your physician about peripheral artery disease screening.

Are you obese?
Do you exercise less than three times per week?
Do you have heart disease?
Do you eat a poor diet?
Do you consume an excessive amount of alcohol?
Do you smoke?
Do you have high cholesterol?
Do you have high blood pressure?
Are you a diabetic?

The primary benefit of peripheral artery disease identification is to reduce the risk of heart, stroke, limb loss and even death. The good news is that if it is identified early, you receive treatment, and aggressively modify the amount of exercise you get, improve your diet, etc., peripheral artery disease is quite treatable in most cases. 

Note too that you, as a patient, may need to ask additional questions to your caregiver because most physicians and nurses are not great at following through to follow up on potential peripheral artery disease. And if you have leg pain, make sure the doctor nurse examines your feet and legs because peripheral artery disease is easily and often overlooked.

Matt Hook is an interventional cardiologist with Wake Heart & Vascular Associates, with an office located in the WakeMed Heart Center.