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School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Office of Corporate Communications
MEDIA CONTACT: David March
November 9, 2004
ULTRASOUND OF CAROTID ARTERY IN NECK DETECTS EARLY SIGNS OF HEART FAILURE
Ultrasound examination of the carotid artery of the neck, plus an MRI to test heart function, can improve identification of individuals most at risk of developing heart failure, according to early study findings by researchers at Johns Hopkins.
Ultrasound is very effective at identifying early signs of atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries such as the carotid artery, which is a good tool for identifying people at risk of developing heart failure early on, said the studys lead author, Verônica Fernandes, M.D., a cardiology research fellow at the The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute. The sooner we know there is a problem, the sooner we can take corrective action, including drug therapy and lifestyle risk factor modification, such as reducing blood pressure, exercising more and adjusting diet to change cholesterol levels.
While it is too early to suggest that the link between artery thickness and changes in heart function predict the development of heart failure, we can say that the connection does improve our ability to detect the disease in people who do not show any symptoms.
As part of a larger study, the Hopkins team used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the carotid artery wall in 500 men and women between the ages of 45 and 84, with no previous symptoms of heart disease. The researchers found a direct link between increased wall thickness and reduced, or weakened, heart function, which could represent an early indication of heart failure. Indeed, when the researchers measured with MRI the strength of heart contraction, known as the strain and strain rate, they found that people with a carotid wall thickness of less than 0.76 millimeters had better heart function than people with a wall thickness greater than 0.93 mm, who had weaker heart function.
The results were early findings from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a 10-year study that started in 2000, which is following the heart health of nearly 7,000 men and women to see if they develop atherosclerosis.
Increased Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Is Associated with Regional Myocardial Dysfunction Detected by Tagged MRI in Asymptomatic Individuals: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Verônica Fernandes, Thor Edvardsen, Benilton Carvalho, David Bluemke, Khurram Nasir and João Lima, Johns Hopkins; Joseph Polak and Daniel OLeary, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, Mass.
(Abstract Poster Number #2771, C104, Hall B1, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.)