New Test Identifies Heart & Stroke Risk Earlier
MPCP Cardiologist, Dr. David Kim Explains CIMT
We’ve made great strides in understanding the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. And we try to prevent them by eating well, exercising, controlling our blood pressure and cholesterol and avoiding bad habits, like smoking. But many people still suffer heart attacks and strokes despite these efforts. What if there was a way to identify a person’s risk earlier- and non-invasively? A new testing method, called Carotid Intima-Media Thickness- or CIMT- is doing just that.
CIMT testing utilizes ultrasound to examine the inner lining (i.e., Intima and Media layers) of the carotid arteries in your neck. These layers are known to gradually thicken over the years as part of the normal aging process. But if this thickening is accelerated, it suggests that that person may be at higher risk of eventually developing full atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”) –the step that often leads to a heart attack or stroke. Indeed, multiple research studies have shown that premature intima-media thickening identifies those at a higher risk for a cardiac event even more than previously thought. Knowing your CIMT may be very useful in formulating a more precise strategy of prevention that is targeted for you.
CIMT testing is most appropriate for individuals between 40 and 70 years old, especially in those with a history of smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or family history of heart disease. This test is NOT recommended if you already have a history of coronary artery disease (such as previous heart attack, bypass surgery, or heart angioplasty/stent), previous stroke, or known peripheral arterial disease.
CIMT testing is quick (about 20 minutes), non-invasive and pain-free. Because it uses ultrasound technology, there is no exposure to any harmful radiation. No special preparation is needed.
CIMT testing is available at our MPCP Columbia Cardiology practice. It costs $70 and is not covered by insurance. After the completion of the study, a result report with detailed explanation will be mailed to you and your health care provider(s). Your CIMT result can then be used in conjunction with known cardiovascular risk factors to more precisely assess your risk of future cardiovascular events.
If you have any questions, or would like to make an appointment, please contact the Columbia Cardiology office at 410-740-0789 or visit our site page.