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Guidelines Suggest Subclinical Atherosclerosis Screen

SHAPE guidelines can prevent more than 90,000 deaths

TUESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- New evidence-based guidelines call for non-invasive screening of all asymptomatic men aged 45 to 75 and all asymptomatic women aged 55 to 75 to detect and treat subclinical atherosclerosis. Developed by the Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education (SHAPE) Task Force, the guidelines were published online July 11 and will appear in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Newer tests to detect atherosclerosis and abnormal arterial function are being developed but, currently, degree of calcification as measured by computerized axial tomography scanning and carotid artery intima-media thickness and plaque as measured by ultrasonography provide prognostic information of proven value regarding future risk of heart attack, the guidelines state.

"Traditional risk factors play a major role in treatment for prevention of heart attack, but they fail to reliably identify individuals at risk of heart attack, which is best done through assessing the total atherosclerotic plaque volume, structure and function of the patient's arteries," said task force member Erling Falk, M.D., of the Aarhus University in Denmark, in a statement.

Such screening holds the potential to prevent more than 90,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease and may reduce the population with a history of heart disease by as much as 25 percent. In addition, it can save $21.5 billion annually, the SHAPE task force predicts.

More Information - AEHA
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