Free Peripheral Vascular Disease Checks May 8 at UAMS

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will offer free screenings for peripheral vascular disease (PVD) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 8. To schedule appointments, call (501) 686-5318.


PVD, a disease of the arteries, is most commonly characterized by leg or hip pain that occurs during walking or exercising, but disappears after a few minutes of rest. PVD serves as a warning sign of potential heart attack, stroke or abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Early detection of PVD through screening enables physicians to treat the disease before such serious problems develop.


Risk factors for developing PVD include being over 40 years old, smoking, having diabetes, being overweight, not exercising, and having high blood pressure or high cholesterol. A family history of heart disease or vascular disease may also increase a person’s risk.


Each screening at UAMS will consist of blood pressure measurements in the ankles and arms, ultrasounds of the carotid arteries in the neck and of the abdominal aorta, and a brief consultation with a vascular surgeon. The screening will take approximately one hour.


PVD occurs when the arteries that carry blood to the arms and legs become narrowed or clogged, thereby interfering with blood flow. The most common cause of the disease is atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”) – a gradual process in which cholesterol and scar tissue build up and form a substance called plaque, which clogs the blood vessels. PVD can also be attributed to blood clots.


The abdominal ultrasound portion of the screening checks for signs of AAA – a bulge in the abdominal portion of the aorta, the body’s main artery that delivers blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The aneurysm is caused by a weakening or damage in the aorta’s wall. Sometimes, the AAA grows so large that it bursts and becomes life-threatening. Risk factors for this condition include being male and over 60 years old, smoking, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and having a family history of AAA or another type of aneurysm.


The UAMS screenings will be provided in conjunction with the American Vascular Association’s national screening program during May.