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Studies Used Ultrasound to Determine Stroke Risk

admin - August 23, 2011

strokeWebMD Health News reports the results of a recent 2-yr study that used two types of ultrasound testing to assess the plaque in the carotid arteries of 435 people with asymptomatic carotid stenosis. The purpose of the study was to better identify the persons who were in need of surgery or stenting versus medication. Having the ability to positively identify who is most at risk for stroke is a current dilemma within the medical community.

The carotid arteries are the arteries located in the neck that carry blood to the brain. These arteries can become narrowed as plaque buildup occurs. This narrowing is referred to as asymptomatic carotid stenosis, or ACS. “Asymptomatic” means that the patient does not display symptoms, and they may, in fact, never display symptoms. As you can imagine though, if stroke does happen, it is a devastating occurrence.

Summary of Study

The two types of ultrasound testing that were used in the study were: (1) A standard ultrasound to assess the quality and composition of the plaque in the carotid arteries, and (2) a Doppler ultrasound to look for the presence of tiny blood clots called microemboli. Microemboli is what can break off from the arteries, travel to the brain and cause stroke.

Of the 435 people with ACS in this study, 10 people had a stroke and 20 had mini-strokes called transient ischemic attacks. Additional study data produced the following findings:

  • People with fatty plaque in their carotid artery were more than 6 times more likely to have a stroke than those people without this type of plaque.
  • Plaques that are rich in fat are considered more dangerous.
  • People with both fatty plaque and signs of microemboli were more than 10 times more likely to have a stroke.
  • Risk of future stroke is 8% per year for people who test positive on both screening tests, regardless of additional stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and vascular disease.
  • Future risk of stroke is lower than 1% per year for those with negative results on both imaging tests, regardless of additional stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and vascular disease.

The researchers on this study believe that if additional studies like this produce the same results, it could change the way ACS is evaluated and treated in the future.

You can read the full article at:

carotid artery stroke screeningLife Line Screening uses Doppler ultrasound testing, which allows us to effectively measure the movement of blood through the arteries, which can help detect the dangerous artery narrowing caused by plaque buildup. The results of our stroke screenings  can help your doctor determine if immediate surgery, additional testing, medication or other is warranted.

We are pleased to learn that such studies are being done to better identify who exactly is more at risk for stroke. Meanwhile, stroke remains the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in America.


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