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Cardiovascular screenings help identify problems in your major arteries before symptoms even appear, reducing your risk for heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, heart disease and other serious conditions.
Some of the more common cardiovascular screenings are for:
The abdominal aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body and the main artery that begins in the heart. Abdominal aortic aneurysms often grow slowly and usually without symptoms, making them difficult to detect. Some aneurysms will never rupture. Many start small and stay small, although many expand over time. Others expand quickly. Predicting how fast an abdominal aortic aneurysm may enlarge is difficult.
Many abdominal aortic aneurysms are diagnosed during a routine physical exam, or during tests for other symptoms, such as chest or abdominal pain. The most common test used to detect an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a painless and non-invasive procedure using ultrasound that measures the size of this major artery. Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) is used if a more detailed view is required.
Carotid arteries are usually narrowed by a buildup of plaque — made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances that circulate in the bloodstream. Early diagnosis and treatment of a narrowed carotid artery can decrease stroke risk.
A carotid ultrasound is performed to test for narrowed carotid arteries. During this test, these arteries are visualized using high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) for evidence of plaque. Your doctor may recommend a carotid ultrasound if you have medical conditions that increase the risk of stroke, including:
In its early stages, carotid artery disease often doesn't produce any signs or symptoms. The condition may go unnoticed until it's serious enough to deprive your brain of blood, causing a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
Peripheral artery disease is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.
When you develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), your extremities — usually your legs — don't receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking (claudication). Peripheral artery disease is also likely to be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries (atherosclerosis). This condition may be reducing blood flow to your heart and brain, as well as your legs.
Some of the tests your doctor may rely on to diagnose peripheral artery disease are:
At Mercy, we offer comprehensive services to diagnose and treat a full range of conditions, including:
Mercy's nationally recognized heart experts offer screenings to keep hearts healthy. Request A Screening.