Intima-Media Thickness (IMT) Scan
What is IMT Scan?
Cardiovascular disease is rated as one of the leading causes of death in North America. Several parameters are used to assess one’s risk for heart disease, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and stroke. Elevated blood pressure, elevated lipoprotein a (a high-density cholesterol measure), diabetes, glucose intolerance, metabolic syndrome, hostile behavior, elevated high sensitivity C-reactive protein and homocysteine blood levels are some of the significant markers indicating high risk for an acute cardiovascular event. If any of these indicators are elevated, diet and life-style modifications along with herbs, nutrient therapy, heavy metal detoxification and chelation can significantly reduce these risk factors.
Recently, a more precise indicator of heart disease has been identified – the thickness of the arterial wall of the carotid artery of the neck. The thickness of plaque build-up and the type of plaque in the carotid artery is directly correlated to atherosclerosis disease in the coronary artery of the heart. An individual with a soft plaque formation in the carotid artery has a much higher risk for rupture leading to stroke or heart attack. A calcified harder plaque is associated with a lesser risk. By assessing the carotid artery wall thickness and plaque build-up, the risk of heart disease can be measured, monitored and modified even more precisely than using blood pressure or cholesterol as indicators.
A non-invasive and highly sensitive picture can be taken of the carotid arteries of the neck by using a highly sensitive ultrasound system along with a special computer software. The system is called IMT scan (intima-media thickness). In the New England Journal of Medicine, IMT scan was identified as a precise measurement of artherosclerosis and one’s risk of an acute cardiovascular episode. This quick non-invasive procedure is performed by a skilled ultrasound technician and interpreted by your physician. The procedure takes less than 10 minutes and involves taking 3 pictures of each carotid artery while you are fully clothed. The pictures are then analyzed by your physician and reviewed with you in your follow-up appointment.
IMT scan is a leading-edge medical diagnostic procedure that is sure to be a valuable tool in reducing your risk for heart disease. People with any one of the following factors are good candidates for IMT scan: obesity, 35 years old or older with family history of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, glucose intolerance or insulin resistance, hostile-temperament, and metabolic syndrome. IMT scan is also performed as a preventative exam on anyone over age 45 as identified by the American Heart Association.
At Holistique Medical Center, IMT scans are performed routinely as part of a holistic approach to disease prevention.