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A May 2006 report from the American Heart Association indicates that the carotid scan may be a more important cardiovascular test than originally thought.
Using ultrasound to examine the carotid artery for blockages may be useful in predicting heart attacks and other heart problems in low risk people. Researchers presented their study at the American Heart Association's 7th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke.
These findings are especially important when you consider that a "significant proportion" of heart attack victims do not have other risk factors. This is according to Kwame O. Akosah, M.D., an associate professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and lead author on the study.
In the study, researchers monitored about 140 low risk individuals who had plaque buildup in the carotid artery. They determined that this group was at least three times more likely than those with normal carotid scans to suffer a cardiac event.
With the data from this study, experts have decided that carotid ultrasounds can be an important tool in identifying previously hidden risk factors. By using the carotid scan to diagnose low risk adults with non-coronary atherosclerosis, doctors can identify and possible prevent future heart issues.