Why You Should Have the CIMT Test

By: Zachary Lott

The Big Question 

If you could have a  test performed that could predict the likelihood of you having an adverse cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or stroke, with 98.6% accuracy, would you be interested? I want to introduce an inexpensive, non-invasive, radiation-free test that can do just that upon your first visit to the office. 

The Current Model 

Treating and preventing cardiovascular disease is a focus for many healthcare providers. Medical guidelines are established to aid healthcare providers in making evidence-based decisions about things such as when lifestyle interventions are appropriate, when to use particular medications, and when to escalate treatment. Web-based tools, and risk prediction calculators, are used to stratify a patient’s risk and place them into different categories for treatment. Some of these tools can reliably predict when an individual has an increased risk; however, they often underestimate risk in an alarming majority of individuals (86% according to scientific research ) who go on to experience an adverse cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or stroke. But, the guidelines, and risk predictors, leave out one of the most predictive tests. 

THE CIMT TEST 

There is a simple ultrasound test that can be performed, which research  has demonstrated to predict 98.6% of future adverse events, which is better odds than an at-home pregnancy test. The test is called a carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) test. The tunica intima and tunica media are two different layers inside of the blood vessel. The carotid IMT test uses a rigorous protocol for measuring the general thickness of the arteries and looking for atherosclerosis, or plaque, inside the arterial wall. The average thickness of the artery, the variability of thickness in measurements, and the presence and characteristic of plaque are all useful for predicting one’s risk. 

Clarity on the Issue 

There is another common ultrasound scan of the carotid arteries that is often confused with the carotid IMT test, it’s called a carotid duplex scan. This scan is often sold at discounted rates as part of a health screening package and unfortunately does not provide the same information. The carotid duplex scan is a simple measure of blood flow through the arteries of the neck. A duplex scan does not assess the lining of the artery wall for thickening and duplex scan reports are often noted as ‘Normal’ with up to a 50% blockage in the carotid arteries. In fact, they are so unreliable, that the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has advised against this test for screening for vascular disease in asymptomatic healthy adults. 

The carotid IMT Test is not often covered by insurance which leaves most consumers to pay cash for the test and the price can range from $250-$550 depending on who performs the exam and how it is graded. It is a great tool for diagnosing risk, monitoring improvement to treatment, and deciding when not to use a medication when other traditional risk factors might dictate otherwise, according to medical guidelines. The IMT test is one of the most useful tools in cardiovascular disease diagnostics. Contact  our office today to get yours booked!

CIMT Test Blog Image

CIMT Test showing doppler flow across an large plaque in an otherwise healthy young man.

*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.