All entries tagged with “cIMT”
Predicting and reducing a patient’s risk of having heart disease is the cornerstone of preventive cardiology. Doctors have many options on how to do this including tabulating risk factors like diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and family history. However, some patients will go on to develop heart disease with few or no risk factors. In fact, the majority of heart attacks occur in patients who would be deemed “low risk”.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine examined the ability of carotid ultrasound (an ultrasound study of the main artery in the neck) to predict an individual’s risk of developing heart disease.
Nearly 3000 healthy patients with an average age of 58 underwent an ultrasound examination and then were followed for seven years. The ultrasounds were evaluated for the presence or absence of plaque as well as the thickness of the arterial wall (cIMT).
Patients with even minimal plaque in the neck arteries were noted to have double the risk of heart disease compared to those who did not have plaque. A similar relationship was also found with patients who had thickening of the arterial wall which is a very early sign of plaque build up.
Carotid ultrasound testing can be performed in a doctor’s office, is relatively inexpensive and involves no radiation. This study demonstrates that the findings of a carotid ultrasound gives doctors a powerful tool to predict, and thus reduce, a patient’s future risk of heart disease.