Vascular surgeon highlights importance of vascular screenings

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 10:15 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Sentara RMH’s Vascular Screening program was put on pause during the pandemic, and now that the testing program is back, a vascular surgeon with the medical center said it is vital to preventing serious medical issues.

There are several risk factors that indicate it is time for testing including being age 65 or older, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or a history of smoking.

“We’ll catch in asymptomatic patients that don’t even know they have any problems, about 30% of patients with risk factors will have peripheral arterial disease, 10% will have carotid disease and 5 to 10% will have aneurysmal disease,” Dr. Tara Balint said.

The screenings consist of ultrasounds and blood pressures of ankles and arms, to look for signs of developing issues that could lead to emergencies like strokes, abdominal aortic aneurysms, limb loss, or even death.

“If one of these comes up or more than one of these comes up positive, the patient needs to talk to their doctor about it and then eventually see vascular surgery. We’ll decide if this a disease that we just need to follow and maybe treat medically or with lifestyle changes, more exercise, less cholesterol things like that, or is it something that requires operation now,” Dr. Balint said.

Dr. Balint added that the screenings are of particular importance to diabetics, as more and more people are being diagnosed with both Type 1 and Type 2, and more of them are getting older.

“If you do have a history of diabetes it’s really important for you to get your peripheral arterial studies done, and make sure you don’t have any wounds or ulcers or calluses on your feet that could lead to limb loss,” Dr. Balint explained.

The screenings are performed at Sentara RMH Medical Center, each screening costs $50 individually, but patients can purchase all three together for $99 total. Appointments can be made by calling 5540-689-6000.