Am I at risk for a heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm?
The usual risk factors such as high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and high blood pressure do not tell the whole picture. A look at the body’s arteries provides additional important information. The New Mexico Heart Institute is pleased to offer a simple, painless and inexpensive program to help you learn your risk. We provide a scan of the carotid arteries, the abdominal aorta and estimate the blood flow to your legs. An ultra fast CT scan of your heart determines if you have calcium present in the coronary arteries.
Why is this information important?
The presence of disease in the arteries tells you and your medical provider that you are at risk for a heart attack or stroke or if you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm or problem with low supply to your lower extremities. This information is used to guide your treatment. The information helps determine the best diet, exercise program and perhaps whether you need a medication for cholesterol.
Are these tests all I need to determine my risk?
No, the tests must be evaluated in the light of your overall risk. One single test is never enough to determine your therapy or further diagnostic studies. No single study should ever guide a treatment plan.
What can I expect from the vascular health screening program?
You will have a blood pressure check, a scan of the carotid arteries, the aorta in your abdomen and a test to look for significant blockages in the arteries to your legs. An ultra fast CT of your heart will be taken to look for coronary calcium.
How will I learn of the results?
If your test is ordered by an NMHI physician, they will review the finding with you. If your personal provider has ordered the test, they may prefer to review the findings with you or request a consultation with an NMHI physician.
What happens if the patient has a positive vascular screening test?
Your results will be reviewed by a New Mexico Heart Institute physician who will decide whether additional testing should be recommended. These results will be discussed with you and your referring doctor.
If the patient’s vascular screening is normal, is there any future risk of vascular disease?
Having a normal test is encouraging, but it does not mean your risk of developing vascular disease in the future is zero. It is important to use a normal vascular screening test as motivation to continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
Components of Vascular Health Assessment
- Blood pressure check for hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Abdominal aortic ultrasound scans of the body’s main artery. If an aneurysm is found, further testing can determine how big the aneurysm is and if it needs treatment.
- Carotid artery ultrasound scans to determine the presence of significant carotid artery blockage which can cause strokes.
- Ankle/brachial indices to determine the presence of significant arterial blockage in the legs.
What is the preparation?
The screening will be scheduled for the earlier morning hours. Please fast from midnight (do not eat or drink) before the test to improve the quality of the images of the abdominal aorta. Please wear comfortable clothing that allows access to the neck, abdomen, and ankles.
Schedule a Vascular Screen or Calcium Score
(505) 841-1000 or (800) 715-6644.