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Health and Medical

The Importance of a Vascular Ultrasound for PAD: What to Know

Around 34 million Americans have diabetes.

Sometimes diabetes becomes a part of aging. For others, diabetes is a direct result of being overweight. Whatever the case may be, the moment you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you become more susceptible to conditions such as peripheral artery disease.

Peripheral artery disease or PAD can be a deadly condition if you don’t know how to treat it. Thankfully advancements in vascular ultrasound testing make it easy for doctors to diagnose the condition sooner rather than later.

What do you need to do to prepare for your PAD evaluation? Let’s dive in and find out!

Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease

If you didn’t already know, peripheral artery disease or PAD is a type of arterial disease that happens outside of the heart or brain. When somebody has PAD, their arteries become narrow and the blood flow restricts.

The narrowing of the arteries is usually because of plaque. Usually, PAD affects the arteries in the legs the most.

An ultrasound is the best way to fully evaluate the patient’s condition. After the ultrasound, your doctor can recommend what lifestyle changes would best help treat the condition. In certain situations bypass surgery may be necessary to improve blood flow.

Testing for PAD

Did you know that there’s more than one way to test for PAD? Doctors make a complete diagnosis after reviewing all of your medical histories. Then doctors have to carry out a physical examination using palpitation, touching the legs in the feet.

After the physical examination, your doctor will request an exam called a BPI to take place. The BPI helps measure the blood pressure in your ankles and then compares it to the blood pressure in your upper arms. If the blood flow in your feet is poor, the blood flow in your ankles will be lower than that of your upper arms.

If your doctor suspects that you could be dealing with PAD, they’ll prescribe a pulse strength check.

Ultrasound Testing

Sometimes doctors will resort to further testing using an ultrasound. Ultrasound scans can help identify what areas of your body have narrow blood vessels. Your doctor can use the data from the ultrasound test to determine how severe damage is to the arteries.

How to Prepare for Your Ultrasound

What can you expect to happen during a pad evaluation? Each exam will use high-frequency waves to detect the condition of the arteries. When the test is taking place for your lower extremities, doctors will be looking for narrow arteries in your legs.

When testing your lower extremities, you can also expect doctors to perform a pulse volume recording. The doctors will slightly inflate blood pressure cuffs on your thighs.

Using a special microphone; the doctors can then listen to the pulses at your ankles. The unique microphone is a doppler transducer. The procedure is entirely painless; it doesn’t hurt at all.

If the doctors find that the blood pressure and waves are normal, you might have to move forward with the treadmill test. If your blood pressure drops, your doctor will perform an ultrasound evaluation of your arteries.

The ultrasound is also a painless procedure. Using a high-frequency sound wave, doctors get information about your blood flow. The sound waves bounce off the moving blood inside your body, help doctors understand what your blood flow looks like.

Health Conditions That Warrant a PAD Evaluation

Who needs a vascular study? As we mentioned, a vascular study helps doctors understand what’s going on with your arteries. If there are any signs that you might have a lack of blood flow in your neck, arms, or legs, you could benefit from a vascular study.

A vascular analysis is also helpful if you’ve recently had a procedure done. It might be necessary to restore a steady current of blood flow to a specific area.

In certain situations, health conditions will spur the need for a vascular study. For instance, certain inflammatory conditions can trigger the need for a test.

Other health conditions that warrant a vascular study include varicose veins. The more severe the veins, the more pertinent the need for the test becomes.

Physical Signs

Some of the physical signs that indicated a decrease in blood flow include swelling and pain. For instance, if your legs are painful after walking, there might be an issue with your blood flow.

Numbness and tingling also point to restricted blood flow. The sooner you undergo your vascular studies, the faster doctors can help you return to normal.

Understanding Your Vascular Ultrasound Results

What will the results show after taking a vascular ultrasound? If you have a normal test, the blood vessels won’t show any signs of narrowing.

There won’t be any evidence to point towards clots or closures. Instead, normal test results mean that the arteries will have normal blood flow.

What about abnormal test results? Abnormal test results can include reporting a blockage in your artery from a blood clot.

If there’s any narrowing or widening of an artery, this will also show up in the abnormal test results. Other abnormal test results include arterial occlusions and veins that are closing off.

After getting your test results, your doctor will want to review them with you. They’re likely to suggest different lifestyle changes to help prolong your longevity.

Lifestyle Changes

If you’re a cigarette smoker, your doctor will probably recommend quitting smoking altogether. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of having any type of circulatory issue, and that includes staying away from heart problems! Many tobacco-related deaths are the result of heart problems, not lung cancer.

Get Back on Your Feet

You don’t have to be afraid of getting a vascular ultrasound. The procedure is easy to prepare for, and it doesn’t take long. The best part is that there isn’t any pain involved!

Instead, ultrasounds are none nonintrusive, hassle-free, and incredibly effective. Once you finish getting your test, you and your doctors will finally know what’s happening inside your body. For more ways to stay up to date with your health, check out the rest of our website.

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