What do my CIMT results mean?
NORMAL: Normal thickness and no plaque
At this time your risk is low for heart attack and stroke but remember this is only one measurement. You should still have your Heart risk factors checked with your primary care provider. You can use the “Framington Heart Score” if you want to get a basic idea of your other heart risk factors.
LOW: Slight increase in CIMT with no obvious plaque
This is the very beginning of changes. You should have your Heart risk factors checked with your primary care provider. Also, there are many lifestyle changes and unique risk factors that can be checked.
LOW-MODERATE: Moderate increase in CIMT with no obvious plaque
Because of moderate thickness, your arteries are under more stress and it is very important for you to have an updated history and exam with your primary care provider. Beside just testing for the usual risk factors, you may need to have closer monitoring with your provider.
MODERATE-HIGH: Moderate increase in CIMT with mild plaque noted
With the beginning of plaque noted in the carotid arteries, it is very important to see your health care provider. Besides an update exam and review of risk factors, they may recommend further testing or treatment; even if there are not any symptoms.
HIGH: Increase in CIMT (Slight or moderate) with significant plaque noted
Your findings should be discussed as soon as possible with your health care provider. You may or may not have symptoms. Your provider may want you to see a Vascular specialist who can offer a detailed evaluation and sometimes specialized scans are needed (Cat scan or MRI).
*Please note that the presence of plaque is an estimate. CIMT is only a screening test.
Where do I start if my CIMT is elevated?
Discussing the results with your health care provider is very important so your personal medical can be considered.
Measuring blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are critical.
Your lifestyle can greatly help your heart health. This will not change instantly, but there are many things you can do to reduce risk. Quitting tobacco is critical.
Other important factors to consider:
- How healthy is your diet?
- Are you exercising?
- Is your body at a healthy weight?
- Are you stressed?
- Do you snore?
- Are your teeth and gums healthy?
What other factors can lead to heart disease?
The traditional heart risk factors of blood pressure, diabetes or pre-diabetes, high cholesterol and tobacco can still miss identifying your risk. For example, if you have a family history of premature coronary artery disease, your Framingham risk score may not accurately estimate your risk.
Also, health challenges such as obesity, sleep apnea, hormone imbalance (including thyroid), toxins, stress, steroid use and depression can all cause problems that add to heart and stroke risk. If you had high blood pressure or blood sugar problems during pregnancy, you would benefit from monitoring your risk factors closely to reduce future risk.
A special higher risk group is autoimmune disease (ex: RA, psoriasis, lupus, colitis and thyroiditis).
There are also nutritional deficiencies and special blood tests that can help uncover hidden risk for blood vessel problems.
If you are interested in a personalized, detailed cardiac screening The Center for Optimal Health offers several options to help with reducing risk factors, but also to educate and empower you on how to be healthy.
What are other ways to evaluate risk for heart disease?
Another important tool to determine heart risk is the risk calculator called the Framingham Risk Score. This is not to be used with a person already diagnosed with diabetes, since that already puts you in a higher risk group. It has been extensively studied and has been utilized for years to help calculate risk of heart disease. This score is based on a point system for age, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, smoking and high blood pressure. Although you can’t stop your aging, you can potentially reduce your heart risk by controlling or reversing the other risk factors (link to score).
If your Framingham Risk Score puts you in an intermediate risk group, then the CIMT measurement can help to define if you are actually at a better or sometimes worse risk. This helps when treatment is discussed.
In addition to a visit with your healthcare provider, we are happy to help with an advanced cardiac screening to personalize a wellness program. This will take you beyond the traditional risk factors. This can be very beneficial because 50% of the time with a heart attack, the traditional risk factors were "normal" and often there are no warning signs or symptoms before an event.
Advanced lipid analysis (10 different cholesterol markers)
Advanced cardiac risk factors by blood testing
- This may include Advanced markers influencing vascular health :nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalance, inflammation and metabolic balance
Complete lifestyle, medical history, and cardiac exam by a board-certified Cardiologist
Detailed lifestyle and nutritional recommendations based on your CIMT results and scientifically based functional medicine principles
Additional resting to assess the health of your arteries
- Coronary artery calcium score
- Stress test
NO MATTER WHAT YOUR CIMT TEST SHOWED, IT IS BENEFICIAL TO RECHECK THE TEST TO SEE IF THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES. Studies have shown that if a CIMT is rapidly changing, then careful attention to the causes and treatment needed to be watched even closer. Also, reversal of CIMT has been documented and allows you to know if your treatment plan is helping.