The CIMT Test

Why look at the neck to find out about the heart?
The thickness of the arteries in the neck was found to correlate with the risk of developing blockage in the arteries that feed the heart and cause heart attacks. There have been many research papers that corroborate this statement. In fact, the thickness of the carotid arteries is used as the endpoint in drug studies, for example to show that a cholesterol medicine really works, and get FDA approval. Showing a reduction in Carotid thickness is considered the same as showing beneficial effect on the heart.

CIMT testThe two inner linings of any artery are called the Intima and the Media, hence the name of the test: Carotid Intima Media Thickness. (CIMT). Measuring the thickness of these layers in your Carotid arteries provides a “window” to see the condition of your arteries throughout your body, including your heart. This is a sophisticated scanning and measurement technique that uses special software and databases, it is not the usual simple carotid scan to look for blockages that is part of simpler screenings, or used by your doctor when he suspects problems have already developed.

CIMT ultrasoundThe test, which uses ultrasound, measures the thickness of the wall of the Carotid artery in the neck, the artery that feeds the brain. Thickening in this artery is an early change, before actual plaques develop, a sign of increased risk of development of blockages in the heart arteries and other arteries in the body, increasing the risk of heart attacks. We can compare the thickness to known databases of thousands of patients, and arrive at an estimate of heart attack risk, compared to the general population.

CIMT test The test is done without any exposure to radiation whatsoever, very different from CT scanning, commonly called “coronary calcium scoring” or “heart scans”. Although both tests are useful in different ways, CIMT offers the additional benefit of being a predictor of stroke, which CT scanning is not,and is more reliable in younger individuals under 50, in women, and non-caucasians.

The test is simple, painless, and non-invasive – no injections, needles, of any kind. A gel is put over the neck area on both sides, then sound beams are used to get an ultrasound picture of the carotid arteries. Measurements are generated, and a report of the findings is issued. The Artery-Age CIMT Test takes about 20 minutes. These is no special preparation.

Read about the Test Results

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