You might know that heart disease is the leading killer among Americans (it’s the cause for 1 in 4 deaths according to the CDC). But, did you know there is a test that you could take to aid in early detection? The test is non-invasive, takes about 15 minutes, and is covered by almost all health insurance providers. It’s called an ABI, and it determines whether or not you have Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).
Why it Matters
An EKG tests the function of your heart (which is important, of course), but it doesn’t check all of those important arteries in your arms and legs. A blockage in one of your limbs can lead to heart attack or stroke just as quickly as a blockage in your heart can.
Just last year, over 11,000 people in Maryland died from some form of heart disease, and another 2,700 died from stroke. In Howard County, 1 out of every 10 people hospitalized in 2016 were there due to some sort of heart disease (CDC).
What it’s Like
You’ll lie down on a table, and one of our doctors will put a cuff around your arm to take your blood pressure. Then, they’ll put a dab of ultrasound gel on your arm, just below the cuff. They’ll repeat this on your other arm and both ankles.
In order to hear your blood flow, the doctor will use something called a Doppler device. It’s a little plastic tool, and they’ll hold it against each spot of gel in order to get an accurate reading.
Once the doctor has all of your readings, they’ll put them together to create your Ankle-Brachial Index. The lower the number, the more blockage you have. And, once we have your reading, we can begin a treatment plan if necessary.
Who Should Have One
If you have any of the following risk factors, you should have this test done at least once a year:
- You are a smoker
- You are, or are a recovering, alcoholic
- High Blood Pressure
- You are over 60 years old
If you fit any of these criteria, and you have not yet had your ABI this year, please call us at 410-730-7040 to schedule your test.