Thursday, May 26, 2011

This story has legs

kw: medical tests

I am in the process of getting the base line studies done so I can convince my doctor I am not in imminent danger of heart attack or stroke, and cruise along on autopilot for a decade or so. Today was a test of arterial health in my legs.

It all started when I did a screening test, at one of these outfits where they check your arteries in certain key places using ultrasound. They also do a differential blood pressure test between arm and ankle, which is supposed to detect blockages in an artery in the leg. This test in particular produced a result that they flagged as abnormal. Although my doctor had his technician repeat the test, which came back normal, he decided to have me tested more thoroughly. Today I visited an imaging center for the more thorough test.

Thorough hardly begins to describe it! I had the usual blood pressure cuff put on each arm. But on the legs, each leg had four cuffs, at ankle, calf, lower thigh and upper thigh. The technician first did blood pressure on my arms, using Doppler ultrasound to pinpoint breakthrough pressures. Then she operated the sequencing machine that worked its way up one leg, and then up the other one. The farther up the leg you go, the harder it is to squeeze off the blood flow. On both sides, the uppermost cuff was rather painful! Anyway, from the small, approving clucks I heard from the technician, I infer that the test was pretty normal. I won't really know until the report is sent to my doctor.

I complained in the past about having a doctor who was too passive. My current family doctor is possibly a bit too aggressive. This is part of the give-and-take I've decided to participate in to be sure I am in good health, so I have the basis to push back against any future tests that I deem too intrusive.

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