Don't Let Vascular Disease Sneak Up on You

A saw cutting around a heart

Few people think about their vascular health until the unthinkable occurs — a stroke.

Cardiovascular disease, among the leading causes of death in the U.S., rarely has noticeable symptoms to alert you. It often strikes without warning, according to Franz Murphy, MD, CHI Health vascular surgeon.

“Even though preventive screening is available, millions of Americans remain unaware of their risk,” Dr. Murphy said. And those risks can be devastating.

“Blocked or hardened arteries can lead to ruptured aneurysm and stroke,” Dr. Murphy said. “Vascular disease in the legs, a major indicator for heart disease, can impair circulation to the point of amputation and is associated with sudden cardiac death.”

If you’re 55 years of age or older with a history of hypertension, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol or known cardiovascular disease, you could benefit from vascular screening. “Early detection is key in prevention,” Dr. Murphy said.

Vascular Health Screening Demystified

Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound — Abdominal aorta (body’s main artery) and branching arteries are imaged for enlargement (aneurysm), plaque and blockage.

Arterial Extremity Study — Blood pressures are taken at ankle and brachial (arm and shoulder) levels and ultrasound is used to check for artery plaque and blockage.

Carotid Doppler Study — A painless ultrasound exam checks for plaque buildup in neck arteries that supply blood to the brain.

Venous Doppler Study — Ultrasound examines leg and arm veins for blood clots or evaluate leg veins for heart bypass surgery.

Renal Duplex Ultrasound — Examines arteries that carry blood flow to the kidneys and blood flow within kidneys.

Franz K. Murphy, MBBS

Vascular Surgery