A striking number of people classified at low-risk for cardiovascular disease have plaque in their carotid arteries, the arteries that bring blood to the brain. Researchers from Oxford, writing in The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery, say that carotid screening for asymptomatic people may be able to help stratify those who, on first look, appear to be at low-risk but with imaging turn out to be higher risk.
The global burden of cardiovascular disease has increased over the past two decades. This suggests the current strategies for early-stage prevention aren’t working. This suggests that current strategies for early-stage prevention aren’t doing enough to catch those who have disease. Finding early stage stenosis (blockages) in the carotid arteries can be treated proactively by medications, in order to stop the blockages from getting worse.
The researchers write, “Carotid screening to uncover early atherosclerosis disease in appropriate population groups could potentially identify many people who may benefit from lifestyle advice and medical therapy.”
The authors also note that carotid imaging is noninvasive, affordable and the findings easily re-checked to confirm the first screening’s results.
The overall goal is find carotid plaque before it is serious and stop people from having strokes and heart disease.
DeWaard, DD, Moriss D, Borst GJ, Bulbulia R, and Halliday A. Asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis: who should be screened, who should be treated and how should be treat them? J of Cardiovascular Disease, Vol 58, No. 1; 3-12.