Heart disease is the number one killer in this country. Unfortunately, everyone is at risk for heart disease, especially men over age 40, and women over 50. This disease kills more Americans every year than all other causes of death combined (including all cancers). Heart disease usually strikes without warning, and many people have normal cholesterol levels and a healthy stress test. Checking cholesterol levels are still important, but it doesn’t give us the whole story. It is an indirect measurement of your risk for heart disease. Two other imaging tests, the CIMT and EBT Heart Scan, are available to predict risk for heart attack and stroke.
What is CIMT? It stands for “carotid intima media thickness test.” It is a non-invasive test using ultrasound to determine the thickness of the carotid arteries. You see.. as we get older, our arteries get thicker. It’s a natural part of aging, but just like other changes our bodies go through, too much of anything can lead to risk of disease. If the artery is thickening too rapidly, then it is an early sign of arteriosclerosis.
The thickness is used to calculate an arterial “age” by comparing it to an average person of your age. There is no radiation involved and it is less expensive then a heart scan. This test can see “soft plaque”, where the heart scan cannot. This soft plaque is under the surface of the artery and can determine the hidden risk of heart disease.
The EBT (electron beam tomography) Heart Scan can determine if a patient has heart disease or is at risk for a heart attack. Through an electron beam, it will actually show “hard” plaque on the coronary arteries. This is plaque that’s on the surface of the artery. The American Heart Association states that this is the most powerful predictor of coronary events.
Ask your practitioner which test might be best for you.