When Do I Need a Carotid Intima Media Thickness Ultrasound?

One in four deaths in the United States is attributable to heart disease, and a person dies every 36 seconds due to cardiovascular disease. While these statistics are frightening, they also give us fair warning to do all that we can to avoid cardiovascular problems using every resource available. One of these resources is the carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) ultrasound, which we offer here at Lafferty Family Care. 

Under the guidance of Dr. Scott Lafferty, our team of health care experts offers comprehensive cardiac prevention assessments, allowing our patients to screen for potentially serious and life-threatening cardiovascular issues. 

Here’s a look at how a CIMT ultrasound plays into evaluating your risks for cardiovascular disease.

Your carotid artery

Before we get into the CIMT test, let’s quickly review the role your carotid artery plays in your cardiovascular health. This artery is one of two major arteries that delivers oxygen-rich blood to your brain. If you place your fingers on either side of your neck, just below your chin, you can feel this artery, which is why people often take your pulse in this location.

Understanding carotid artery disease

The primary goal of a CIMT ultrasound is to check for carotid artery disease, which occurs when plaque builds up in this blood vessel, reducing the amount of blood that flows to your brain. This progressive blockage increases your chances for stroke as clots can develop that stop or greatly reduce the amount of blood flow to your brain.

In most cases, carotid artery disease is progressive, and there’s often no warning sign that there’s a problem until it’s too late, which is where the CIMT test comes in.

The CIMT ultrasound

A CIMT ultrasound is a quick-and-painless way for us to evaluate the health of your carotid artery and whether plaque buildup poses a threat. 

Using harmless ultrasound technology, we can assess:

The procedure itself takes less than 20 minutes and your results are immediate, allowing us to take swift action to prevent a serious event if need be.

Who should undergo a CIMT ultrasound

Since carotid artery disease is progressive, and there are often no symptoms, we recommend this test if you fall into certain risk categories, such as having any of the following characteristics:

Age certainly plays a role in whether you should undergo a CIMT ultrasound, but it’s not a deciding factor, as a very healthy 80-year-old may have fewer risks than a 40-year-old who meets several of the criteria outlined above.

The best way to find out whether a CIMT test is right for you is to schedule an appointment with us so we can review your health and your risk factors. To get started, contact our office in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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