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Most Common Online Vascular Health Search Questions Answered by the Society for Vascular Surgery
ROSEMONT, Ill., December 28, 2019 – It is common for people to head to the Internet for health information. In fact, Google receives one billion health-related searches daily, or 70,000 searches a minute. Frequent searches involve medical conditions, symptoms and medications, from the flu to high blood pressure. Information on vascular disease was difficult to find, just 10 years ago, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, much has improved since then. Here are the answers to the most common patient-related searches related to vascular health in 2019 from the Society for Vascular Surgery’s (SVS) website.
What is vascular disease?
Most Americans are familiar with heart disease and the consequences of blockages in the vessels that carry blood to and from the heart. But few people realize that blockages caused by a buildup of plaque and cholesterol affect more than coronary arteries. The vascular system is like the highway of the body composed of arteries, veins and capillaries. Vascular disease is any condition of those almost 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the body, and any complication along this highway in the body can cause problems and health risk.
What does a vascular surgeon do?
Vascular surgeons specialize in treatments of every kind of vascular problem except those of the heart and the brain. Vascular surgeons are highly trained specialists who manage the long-term care of patients with circulatory disorders at all stages, providing diagnosis, medical management, non-surgical solutions, checkups and intervention, both minimally invasive endovascular therapy and open surgery (when needed). Many vascular conditions are highly treatable. When surgery is needed, vascular surgeons are trained in all types of interventions, not just one or two. It is important to see a vascular surgeon even when surgery is not needed.
What are the most common vascular tests?
Several types of tests can be conducted to determine if someone has vascular disease. Here are the most commonly searched tests on the SVS website:
- Angiogram, a contrast dye-based X-ray procedure that can be both diagnostic and therapeutic. It is considered the gold standard for detecting and evaluating blockages in the arterial system. The procedure provides information that helps your vascular surgeon determine your best treatment options. Angiograms are typically performed while you are sedated. The procedure may last 15-20 minutes or up to several hours, depending on how difficult the test is and how much treatment is given. Other commonly performed tests include:
- Ankle-Brachial Index or ABI Test, a quick non-invasive test to check for Peripheral Artery Disease compares blood pressure at the ankle with that at the arm. A low number can indicate narrowing or blockage of the arteries in your leg. For patients with non-healing foot wounds and diabetes, pressures in the toes themselves can even be measured noninvasively (TP or TPI).
- Carotid Duplex, a noninvasive test to see and measure the rate at which blood flows through your carotid arteries to look for possible blockages.
- Duplex Ultrasound, a noninvasive measure of blood flow of veins and arteries.
- Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) and Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) Tests, advanced imaging studies that provide detailed information about the blood vessels and their anatomic relationships with other organs.
What are the most commonly searched vascular conditions?
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA), when an area of the aorta becomes very large or balloons out. AAA’s are highly hereditary.
- Chronic Venous Insufficiency, when valves in the veins (usually in the leg or sometimes the arms) don't work, causing blood to pool in legs, putting increased pressure on the walls of the veins.
- Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease, blockage of the aorta or the iliac arteries. The iliac arteries are the branches that your aorta divides into around the level of the belly button to provide blood to your legs and the organs in your pelvis. This blockage is typically caused by a buildup of plaque within the walls of the blood vessels.
Other websites affiliated with professional societies and major medical institutions can be good sources. Be mindful that not all information found online is reliable. If you have a specific question about your vascular health, remember to consult your doctor. For more information on vascular health topics visit www.vascular.org.