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Picture This: Heart Health Risk Assessment Gets Easier
Date:2/5/2008

New Standards for Carotid Ultrasounds Offer Doctors a Powerful Diagnostic

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RALEIGH, N.C., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) today issued a new consensus statement for interpreting and responding to results of a carotid ultrasound study for cardiovascular disease risk assessment. The statement provides specific guidance for detecting early atherosclerotic plaques and increased thickness of the carotid artery walls -- also known as carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT). By following the consensus statement, doctors will be more confident recommending aggressive preventive therapies if ultrasound reveals the walls of the carotid arteries are thicker than established cut points for patients of similar age, sex and race. Identifying patients who have hidden risks for heart disease without invasive procedures should help improve patient care and treatment success rates.

"There is a great interest in identifying patients who don't have symptoms of heart and blood vessel disease but who are at higher risk than they may appear," said Dr. James H. Stein, a cardiologist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, the lead author of the ASE consensus statement. "Having a safe, non-invasive approach for diagnosing early arterial disease and revealing potential heart disease will give doctors and patients the information they need to select the best treatment options."

Carotid ultrasound has been used as a research tool for more than two decades and is increasingly turning into an established clinical practice. To guide doctors on when it should be used and what the results mean, the consensus statement provides standards for patient selection, scanning technique, imaging protocol and interpretation. In addition, it provides recommendations for training and certification of sonographers and readers.

Dr. Stein said despite the proven value of ultra
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SOURCE The American Society of Echocardiography
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