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Ultrasound Findings Add to Heart Disease Risk Prediction

Carotid intima-media thickness, plaque presence added to traditional risk factors improves prediction

FRIDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- The addition of carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) and plaque presence, determined via carotid ultrasound, improves coronary heart disease risk prediction over traditional risk factors, according to a study in the April 13 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Vijay Nambi, M.D., of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues evaluated 13,145 subjects from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study who did not present with coronary heart disease or stroke.

The researchers found that approximately 23 percent of patients were reclassified when CIMT and plaque data were added to traditional risk factors, and this new model resulted in the most improvement in the area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve, which increased from 0.742 (traditional risk factors only) to 0.755.

"Carotid ultrasound-based CIMT measurement and identification of plaque presence or absence improves coronary heart disease risk prediction in the ARIC study and should be considered in the intermediate risk group (5 to 20 percent estimated 10-year coronary heart disease risk). Ultrasound-based risk stratification strategies should be tested in clinical trials to evaluate whether improved prevention of cardiovascular events is possible," the authors write.

Dr. Nambi has a research collaboration with General Electric, and a co-author disclosed financial ties to multiple pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

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