What Is Arterial Doppler Testing?
Arterial Doppler testing uses high-frequency sound waves to capture images of your blood vessels. This procedure helps your doctor deduce how well your blood is flowing through the arteries — and whether there are any blockages. Blood clots pose a health concern, as they can be caused by a build-up of fatty deposits. If the pieces of fat break free, they can travel to your heart or your brain, which can be fatal.
At the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens, NY, prevention is the number one priority. A diet high in cholesterol and a sedentary lifestyle can trigger preventable medical conditions like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which can contribute toward a build-up of fat deposits in your blood vessels. This type of fatty congestion, called plaque, leads to a narrowing of your arteries, a condition that’s known to be a silent killer.
How Can I Prevent Clogged Arteries?
Before your condition escalates into a dangerous issue that requires immediate vascular surgery, your primary care physician, internist or vein specialist has the opportunity to find obstructed arteries and prescribe a treatment plan that can save your life. It’s recommended that adults visit their doctor at least once a year for a check-up. During these examinations, you should describe any symptoms you’re experiencing, such as chest pain, dizziness or a racing heartbeat.
The first step is arriving at an accurate diagnosis. To determine what’s wrong, your doctor performs a physical exam, takes a medical history and if necessary, conducts some tests to confirm the diagnosis. If there’s sufficient evidence of an arterial blockage in your body, you may need to undergo an imaging test, such as:
- Arterial Doppler. This imaging test gives your doctor a view of your main arteries.
- Venous Doppler. This test lets your doctor examine the veins in your body. If you suffer from varicose veins, you may need to undergo this imaging test.
- Carotid Doppler. This test exposes problems associated with your carotid artery, the primary artery carrying blood from your heart to your brain. Strokes are often the result of a narrowing in the carotid artery.
When Is Arterial Doppler Testing Necessary?
If you’re exhibiting specific symptoms, they may signal a serious medical condition. An arterial Doppler test helps your doctor clarify your diagnosis. Tell your doctor if you have symptoms that include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in your chest, a potential sign of angina
- Poor circulation in your legs and feet
- Numbness in your legs or feet
- Your legs and feet feel cold to the touch
- Heart palpitations
- Sores on your toes, legs or feet
- Shiny skin on your legs
- Cramps with pain in one or both hips or legs
These symptoms may point your doctor to a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease arteriosclerosis, which is caused by blocked arteries. Another condition revealed by an arterial Doppler test is peripheral artery disease. Also caused by the narrowing of your arteries from plaque, this disease usually affects the arteries in your legs and feet. In rare cases, the arteries in your head, arms, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract also may show signs of the disease.
What Is the Arterial Doppler Test Procedure?
The arterial Doppler test is completely non-invasive. A small device known as a transducer is used that emits the sound waves. When the sound waves bounce back to the transducer, a live image is created in real time. During the 60-minute examination, the steps performed include:
- Your doctor determines which areas of your body need to be examined.
- For each, a sonographer first covers the area with a gel that produces clearer images.
- The sonographer places the transducer on the location to capture images of your arteries.
- The images are recorded and transferred onto a computer monitor for observation.
- The sonographer may need to capture images from multiple locations on your body to pinpoint exactly where the arterial problem lies.
Through the use of the Doppler technology, your doctor can actually measure the blood flow in your arteries. The amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat gives a clear indication of whether any arterial blockage exists. Your doctor also recognizes areas where the blood flow is noticeably slow.
What Are the Benefits of the Arterial Doppler Test?
An arterial Doppler test can detect:
- Narrowed arteries due to fatty deposits
- Poor circulation in your lower extremities, especially in your legs
- Bulging arteries or aneurysms
- Heart valve or heart chamber problems
- Congenital heart disease, which is a birth defect
- Blood clots
To prevent heart disease and stroke, your doctor must find the blocked arteries and administer the right treatment. You may even have to undergo cardiac rehabilitation that involves a change in diet and an increase in exercising to keep healthy.
If you find that you can’t do the simple things you used to be able to do, you may have a blocked artery. Get treatment as soon as possible by contacting the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens. Your treatment starts with an accurate diagnosis, perhaps through an arterial Doppler.