New Year, Time for Preventative Screenings

By on December 26, 2020
preventative screenings

Prevention is always easier and cheaper than trying to cure the issue already created. By doing ongoing preventative screenings, women over 50 can more quickly catch bigger health concerns.

Preventive health screenings have long been advocated as one of the most important health care strategies. The screenings allow for early detection and diagnosis of underlying health risks that we are not even aware of. The early diagnosis then allows for treatment before the health concern gets out of control.

It is very well documented that preventative screenings for various health risks improve the quality of life, and prevent premature death. What preventative screenings should women over 50 be looking to have done regularly?

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Carotid Artery Screening

Carotid artery stenosis screening is often done using ultrasound. It is a painless test that uses sound waves to create an image of the carotid arteries. Health care professionals can look at the pictures to see whether the arteries are narrowed or blocked by plaque. Carotid artery disease occurs when plaque (a build-up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances) collects and forms along the walls of the carotid arteries. This buildup of plaque and the injury it causes is called atherosclerosis.

What does it test for?

The Doppler ultrasound screening will test:

  • Blood flow in the carotid arteries
  • Measure the speed of the blood flow
  • Estimate the diameter of a blood vessel and degree of obstruction, if present.

Peripheral Arterial Disease Screening

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. When you develop PAD, your extremities — usually your legs — don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. It is a sign of fatty deposits and calcium building up in the walls of the arteries.

What does it test for?

The painless Doppler ultrasound screening will test:

  • Blood pressure in your arms
  • The systolic blood pressure in your legs
  • Comparison of the blood pressure or the ankle-brachial index (ABI)

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) can be life-threatening if it bursts. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are most common in older men and smokers. The aorta runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen. As the largest blood vessel in the body, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm often grows slowly without any symptoms, making them difficult to detect. Some aneurysms may never rupture but all start small. Some abdominal aortic aneurysms may expand over time, while others grow quickly. Regular screenings will detect the start and growth of the abdominal aortic aneurysm.

What risk factors to consider?

The painless Doppler ultrasound screening will give you a clear picture of the internal organs. Those with the following health concerns are at a higher risk for an aneurysm:

  • Do you have high blood pressure?
  • If you smoke or have a history of smoking
  • If you have high cholesterol
  • Have you suffered from obesity?
  • If you have emphysema
  • Genetic factors and history
  • Males have a higher risk, of an abdominal aortic aneurysm

Atrial Fibrillation Screening

While the figurative meaning of “my heart skips a beat” is endearing, a heart with an irregular rate is not a good sign. The atrial fibrillation screening will reveal an irregular and often rapid heart rate that occurs when the two upper chambers of your heart experience chaotic electrical signals. 

To do the test, EKG electrodes are attached to your wrists and ankles. Tracking the heartbeat during this non-invasive screening will reveal a steady pace or if there are any irregularities.

Osteoporosis Risk Screening

Women over 50 are the most likely to develop osteoporosis. We are 4 times more likely than men to develop this disease. Women’s lighter and thinner bones are more susceptible to osteoporosis. While men can experience osteoporosis, a lower percentage does suffer from the weakening of their bones. 

The bone density test is conducted using pulse-echo ultrasound. It is performed on the tibia (shinbone), which is prone to fracture with osteoporosis. It is non-invasive and is painless.

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New Year, Time for Preventative Screenings