CIMTCarotid Intima-Media Thickness Test (CIMT)
How do you know if you have a healthy heart, if the first sign of a heart attack can be the heart attack itself?
Gain an in-depth insight into your heart health using the CIMT, a powerful, scientifically tested, non-invasive test that offers an early indicator of heart disease. If you’ve ever wondered if you have a healthy heart, if you want to gain proactive control over your cardiovascular health, &/or if you or someone you love might be in a higher-risk category for cardiovascular issues (e.g., due to a family history of heart disease), then CIMT might offer the life-changing and impactful benefits that you are looking for.
So, what is a CIMT test, exactly?
A CIMT (carotid intima-media thickness test) utilizes ultrasound scanners and sound wave technology to detect and measure the build-up of arterial plaque in the carotid artery, offering patient and clinician a real-time image of the condition of the patients’ carotid artery. A CIMT test accurately identifies and assesses the thickness of the space between two distinct layers of the artery itself – the intima and the media.
Inflammation of the carotid artery is often an indicator of a wide range of serious conditions, including infections or autoimmune diseases, whilst an increase in intima-media thickness (IMT) is often recognized as one of the first structural changes to accompany atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty deposits – often referred to as plaque) in the artery. The general presence of thicker arteries places the patient at greater risk of carotid artery disease, chronic kidney disease, peripheral artery disease and coronary heart disease.
Is a CIMT Worth it if I Have No Symptoms of Heart Disease?
A CIMT test is a great adjunct and preventative option in the treatment of cardiovascular heart-related conditions (e.g., stroke, heart attack), particularly because some of these potentially life-altering or fatal conditions exhibit no outward symptoms: sometimes, sadly, the first symptom of a heart attack is the heart attack itself. When there are no early physical warnings, CIMT can become that early warning.
The CIMT test alerts a clinician to the danger of heart disease by evaluating the thickness of the carotid arteries (a pair of blood vessels, located on each side of your neck, which deliver blood to your brain and head), measuring changes in plaque and measuring the thickness of the vessel walls.
The reason why CIMT works as a great preventative test is because the physiological changes that cause heart conditions, such as atherosclerosis, often happens silently and unnoticed over a period of many years. Whilst changes in blood pressure and elevated levels of CRP (C-Reactive Protein) might offer early warning signs to a medic when laboratory tests such as blood works have been conducted, the patient himself might not be aware of either until it is too late.
It remains an inconvenient truth that patients often only become knowledgeable about their increased risk of heart disease & dysfunction when they experience physical symptoms, and seek out traditional laboratory testing (e.g., bloodwork). By the time physical symptoms are manifest, the disease or dysfunction may have progressed significantly. CIMT therefore offers a valuable early opportunity to spot signs of heart disease before any physical damage has occurred.
Is it a Good Choice for Me?
One well-known factor that contributes to a heightened risk of atherosclerosis and thicker arteries is age, alongside high lipoprotein levels (high density cholesterol), having high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, a diet high in saturated fat, a sedentary lifestyle and diabetes.
CIMT might offer a particularly useful choice for you if you are at heightened risk because of one or more of the factors listed above. However, even individuals who do not appear in these high-risk classifications can be mischaracterized as low risk, which is why the CIMT test offers unique benefit as an early-intervention, preventative, and adjunct tool to more traditional screening & diagnostic methods.
How Effective is CIMT?
Medical research confirms that CIMT can effectively predict vascular events independently of conventional risk factors for strokes and heart attacks specifically because the IMT (intima-media thickness) that CIMT tests for is one of the most powerful predictors available for a cardiovascular event (e.g., heart attack). As increased IMT often carries no outward symptoms, the value of CIMT is further highlighted in its ability to spot anomalies in IMT readings.
Further, many patients who go on to suffer heart attacks have been previously characterized as low risk. Due to this, CIMT tests offer the additional benefit of opening up heart screening to all individuals, regardless of whether their doctor is willing to refer them for cardiovascular tests.
What Can I Expect?
The procedure is non-invasive, painless, and quick, requiring no special preparation on the part of the patient. As such, there is no recovery time, either! In fact, unlike standard cardiovascular testing procedures, you could probably fit your CIMT test into your lunchtime. The patient just needs to arrive for their CIMT test wearing comfortable, non-restrictive clothing (e.g., a shirt with an open collar, or loose neck). A gel will then be applied to the area around your carotid artery, and the test begins, using ultrasound and sound wave technology to determine your cardiovascular health.
When the test concludes, you will be provided with a personalized analysis of your CIMT test, at which point you might be advised to take further steps (e.g., lifestyle adaptations, drug-based treatments, further testing), or simply leave with full peace of mind that a healthy heart test brings! The Doctors Studio is ready to speak with you today if you would like to find out more.
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