Ultrasound screening of the carotid arteries can indicate the extent of artery clogging throughout the body. The ultrasound test is just like the one used for pregnant women, but is performed on the neck, where the carotid arteries are, instead of the belly.
Carotid artery ultrasound screening is not yet routinely available to patients at their doctor’s office. Some doctors and traditional cardiologists may be willing to order a carotid ultrasound test on the basis of a high blood pressure reading, particularly if that reading is fairly high, or on the basis of other symptoms.
Alternatively, people in the U.S. can obtain quick carotid artery screening from the company Life Line Screening, which offers a rapid form of such screening, or in Indiana, from Riverview Health. Free screenings are offered at seven U.S. locations by Dare to C.A.R.E., and also by the Michigan Vascular Center.
If carotid artery screening shows any plaque in your carotid arteries, you could request an appointment with a preventive cardiologist. If you’d like to find a preventive cardiologist, here’s how.
Read the free book on “bad” LDL cholesterol, healthy diets, statin safety, and ultrasound artery screening, at the home page: YourArteries.net
Even if the carotid screening results indicate an early stage of artery clogging, a preventive cardiologist may offer an appointment, because artery clogging can advance significantly in just a few years, and preventive cardiologists aim to prevent further artery clogging, through aggressive lowering of “bad” LDL cholesterol. During an appointment, a preventive cardiologist might decide to order a “gold standard” carotid artery screening test–which provides more information but takes a bit longer, and therefore costs more–or another test.
Carotid artery screening is not a perfect screening test, because other arteries could be getting clogged while the carotid arteries remain clear. It is the quickest screening test, however, and the only one available without a doctor’s order.
In the future, carotid artery ultrasound tests may be available from your regular doctor, as part of a routine physical, using a low-cost handheld ultrasound device made by GE, Philips, or Butterfly Network.