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Plaque Identified in People with No Risk Factors

Plaque in Artery

Half of middle aged people have low levels of plaque in their arteries and heart, even though they do not have the traditional risk factors of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high glucose, uncontrolled diabetes and they do not smoke, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. (The study uses the acronym CVRF to mean Cardiovascular Risk Factors.)

The study, called PESA for Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis, studied more than four thousand people between the ages of forty and fifty-four. Half of those had atherosclerosis even without major cardiovascular risk factors.

In simple language, this means that people who appear healthy by the most common measurements still have heart attacks and strokes, and that could be related to the early plaque build-up in their arteries that probably has gone undetected.

The investigators also note that this is “especially the case among younger adults and women, who do have heart attacks and strokes despite being considered low-risk.”

Andrew Manganaro, MD, FACC, FACS, Chief Medical Officer of Life Line Screening, says, “This is further evidence that middle-aged people need to be screened for subclinical (early) plaque build-up (atherosclerosis). Traditional risk factor measurement is not enough on its own. Ultrasound visualization of the inside of the carotid artery can tell us if the individual has plaque, and this is needed to properly identify a person’s risk.”

Life Line Screening is a leading national provider of community-based vascular screenings. 

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