George Lee, MD and Purvi Dubal, Heart and Vascular Institute Operations Manager
Your vascular system carries your lifeblood, and problems can be virtually undetectable until they threaten life or health — but a quick, painless procedure can identify problems while they can still be treated effectively. Vascular screening at El Camino Health has no out-of-pocket cost, and it could save your life.
Blood vessels — arteries carrying oxygen-rich blood and veins carrying blood back to the heart — are the expressways, streets and alleys of the circulatory system. Conditions such as blood clots or hardening of the arteries can create "traffic jams" in blood vessels, obstructing the flow of blood to or from any part of the body. Without oxygen, no part of the body can function.
As a vascular surgeon, I often see the effects of undiagnosed vascular issues. Because vascular conditions and diseases often have no early symptoms, you may not think about your vascular health until your life or well-being are at stake.
Cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death in the United States, and any problem with the vascular system needs to be evaluated and treated as promptly as possible. Early diagnosis often means some cardiovascular disease can be managed with lifestyle interventions and medications instead of invasive surgery. Other vascular conditions, such as aneurysms, may need surgical repair to prevent rupture or other life-threatening events.
Vascular Screening: 30 Minutes Well Spent
The 30-minute vascular screening offered through the El Camino Health Heart & Vascular program is a painless, noninvasive ultrasound of the neck, abdomen and legs to check for common vascular diseases. This screening is a vital tool to help us assess your risk of vascular health conditions, so that doctors can intervene early.
During a screening, we look for:
- Carotid artery disease, which can lead to stroke
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm, which can be deadly if the aneurysm bursts
- Peripheral arterial disease, which can cause serious complications in the lower legs, pain with walking, or in severe cases, may lead to limb loss
We'll share the results with you and your physician and recommend any steps needed.
If you need more advanced, specialized treatment, our team is here for you. Our board-certified vascular surgeons offer a full spectrum of care, covering every possible treatment for circulatory disorders, from medical management, to endovascular procedures, to open surgical procedures.
To treat vascular problems, we use the least invasive options available. Innovations in surgery have made open surgeries less common. Endovascular procedures require only a tiny incision and usually have much shorter recovery times than open surgeries. Our vascular surgery team will make sure you understand all your options.
When to Get Screening
Vascular disease can occur at any age but is more common among older people. Most people under age 40 do not need vascular screening.
You are eligible for screening if you are:
- Age 60 or older
- Age 50 or older, with risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of heart disease, lack of physical activity and obesity
- Older than age 40 with diabetes
Family history of vascular disease — such as immediate family members who have had stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, kidney failure, sudden cardiac death or abdominal aortic aneurysms — may also increase your risk. Talk to your doctor about your personal risk and whether you should get screened early.
El Camino Health provides screenings at the Advanced Care and Diagnostic Center on El Camino Health's Mountain View campus. The screening is noninvasive and takes about 30 minutes. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. No referral is required, and in most cases, there are no out-of-pocket costs.
Schedule a screening
Find out more about free vascular screening
Learn more about Heart and Vascular Care at El Camino Health.
This article first appeared in the August 2023 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.