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Neck Ultrasound May Help Detect Low Heart Disease Risk

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 12:01 AM EST
Category: Miscellaneous
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Hyptertension, Heart Attack, Neck Ultrasound, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Carotid Arteries


IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockPhoto / carotid artery / author: mstroz

People at the higher end of a “low risk” range for heart disease may be at a greater risk than expected and a neck ultrasound could help show the risk.

Researchers presented the new data at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

The findings are based on a study of 13,000 adults with no prior history of heart disease or stroke.

For the study, all patients got an ultrasound of their carotid arteries to measure the thickness of the artery walls; thicker walls can be a sign of a plaque buildup, a risk for heart disease.

The carotid arteries are two large blood vessels in the neck. They supply your brain with blood.

Patients were followed for 14 years. In that time 1,601 patients (12 percent) had a heart attack for the first time or other cardiovascular event.

Nearly 31 percent of heart events occurred in those patients at the higher end of the lower risk range – based on several factors including age, cholesterol levels, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), gender and tobacco use.

Cardiovascular events were less rare in patients at the lower end of the low-risk range – only 16 percent of patients suffered their first heart event during the duration of study.

Researchers, including Vijay Nambi, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine, suggest that neck ultrasounds could help to determine who is at low risk and who could benefit from preventive therapies.

Another study, in August, researchers suggested repeat examinations of the carotid arteries using ultrasounds could help to identify patients at high risk for heart attack or stroke. #

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