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Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT)

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fatty material collects along the walls of the arteries. This fatty material thickens, hardens (forms calcium deposits), and may eventually block the arteries. CIMT is an ultrasound test recommended by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology to screen for heart disease in apparently healthy individuals ages 45 or greater. The CIMT assesses the lining of the artery and determines if there is a plaque buildup.

As the carotid arteries provide a “window” to the coronary arteries, CIMT is an independent predictor of future cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, cardiac death and stroke.

CIMT is a noninvasive test which is performed with a high-resolution, B-mode ultrasound transducer. The test is safe, painless and takes about 20 minutes. After applying the conducting jelly to the skin over your neck, a small hand-held transducer is applied to image the carotid arteries. The sonographer and off-site laboratory measure and report on the combined thicknesses of the intimal and medial layers of the carotid artery walls.

Individuals with the following risk factors for vascular disease should ask their doctor about CIMT:

  • Family history of heart disease/stroke
  • Overweight
  • Increased cholesterol level
  • Age 40 & over
  • High-fat diet
  • Tobacco user
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetic
  • Metabolic syndrome

When a CIMT finds atherosclerosis, safe and effective treatment follows to help mitigate the risk of heart attack and stroke.

If you are interested in a CIMT, we do accept outside referrals. Results are shared with your provider within a week’s time.