Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Simple ultrasound test improves diagnosis of heart disease

New research shows that doing a simple ultrasound scan of the carotid artery significantly improves the prediction of heart disease, giving doctors a better clue of who is at high risk for a heart attack.

The new study, published in today’s Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), shows that approximately 23 percent of patients would be reclassified into a different risk group by adding information obtained from the noninvasive test and that risk prediction using this approach was more accurate.

"Today, up to 70 percent of people who have heart attacks are in a low or intermediate risk category for a heart attack when their risk is estimated using traditional risk prediction models. That’s not very predictive, and we need to do better," said Dr. Christie Ballantyne, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and last author on the study. "Our research shows that a noninvasive ultrasound can give us a more complete snapshot of our patients’ risk, so we can do a better job determining if they’ll have a heart attack."

This is significant because patients who are at higher risk could be treated more aggressively to prevent heart disease.

source: Houston Mehtodist Hospital

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