Your heart is the most vital organ in the human body. Pay particular attention to the organ that fuels your body, your heart health. If your heart is not working properly, means you are at risk to develop health issues associated with your heart.
February is heart health month. In case you did not have a heart check-up during February, it is not too late to do so.
I had my heart check-up with my family doctor in February and I’m now scheduled to visit with my cardiologist in March 2016. In addition, I will have an ultrasound done on my right leg. This leg ultrasound is a first time experience for me and, of course, I was curious and asked the technician to educate me about the test I was about to do, and she did. Here’s what I learned:
- I learned that a blood pressure reading taken in your legs will register a reading usually higher than the blood pressure reading taken in your arms.
- In this ultrasound, they are looking to identify blockage that can affect efficient blood flow to your body thereby putting you at risk for heart related issues.
Had I not gone for my heart check-up there’s a possibility I could have missed an opportunity to take corrective measures toward my heart health. A detailed explanation of the ultrasound that was done on me is posted below.
Many factors contribute to an unhealthy heart, including things we can control. Diet and exercise are two important activities that are within our control. We can therefore, make every effort to practice living an active and healthy life style with some simple changes incorporated into our daily routine.
- Exercise – any form of exercise will be beneficial to your overall health
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Get enough sleep
- Drink plenty water
- Love yourself. Do things that make you feel happy.
The text information below is taken from the US National Library of Health Medicines
Doppler ultrasound exam of an arm or leg
This test uses ultrasound to look at the blood flow in the large arteries and veins in the arms and legs.
How the Test is Performed
During the exam:
- A water-soluble gel is placed on a handheld device called a transducer. This device directs high-frequency sound waves to the artery or veins being tested.
- Blood pressure cuffs may be put around different parts of the body, including the thigh, calf, ankle, and different points along the arm.
- A paste is applied to the skin over the arteries being examined. Images are created as the transducer is moved over each area.
How to Prepare for the Test
You will need to remove clothes from the arm or leg being examined.
How the Test will Feel
Sometimes the person performing the test will need to press on the vein to make sure it does not have a clot. Some people may feel slight pain.
Why the Test is Performed
The test may also be used to:
- Look at injury to the arteries
- Monitor arterial reconstruction and bypass grafts
A normal result means the blood vessels show no signs of narrowing, clots, or closure, and the arteries have normal blood flow.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Abnormal results may be due to:
- Blockage in an artery by a blood clot
- Blood clot in a vein (DVT)
- Narrowing or widening of an artery
- Spastic arterial disease (arterial contractions brought on by cold or emotion)
- Venous occlusion (closing of a vein)
- Venous reflux (blood flow going the wrong direction in veins)
- Arterial occlusion from atherosclerosis
This test may also be done to help assess the following conditions:
There are no risks from this procedure.
Cigarette smoking may alter the results of this test. Nicotine can cause the arteries in the extremities to constrict.
Quitting smoking lowers the risk of problems with the heart and circulatory system. Most smoking-related deaths are caused by cardiovascular problems, not lung cancer.
Cosgrove DO, Eckersley RJ, Harvey CJ, Lim A. Ultrasound. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison’s Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 6th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2015:chap 3.
Fowler GC, Reddy B. Noninvasive Venous and Arterial Studies of the Lower Extremities. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC, eds. Pfenninger & Fowler’s Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2011:chap 88.
Update Date 4/2/2015
Updated by: Jason Levy, MD, Northside Radiology Associates, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.