Research supports vascular disease screening in low risk people

Admin 20 August 2014

Recent research data highlights the benefit of ultrasound screening in detecting early signs of vascular disease in otherwise’ low’ to ‘moderate’ risk asymptomatic individuals.

The data, presented at the 26th World Congress of the International Union of Angiology (IUA) in Sydney, Australia this week, has the potential to half the incidence of stroke and heart attacks.

Each year, 20 million people in middle and old age die due to vascular disease. Yet one-in-three people developing myocardial infarction (MI) will not exhibit any of the conventional risk factors, and 80% of strokes occur without warning in asymptomatic patients. 

Early signs of vascular disease such as atherosclerotic plaques and narrowing of the arteries are indicators of risk and are easily detected with ultrasound screening. Research and analysis presented at the IUA by several leading cardiovascular specialists, shows that identifying asymptomatic individuals at risk as early as possible, and targeting them for aggressive risk factor modification, can dramatically reduce morbidity and mortality from myocardial infarction and stroke by 50%. 

Professor Andrew Nicolaides, Emeritus Professor of Vascular Surgery at Imperial College London, said: “Atherosclerotic arterial disease, which is responsible for heart attacks and strokes, develops slowly and silently for many years before it becomes manifest as disease.

“Its detection and silent progression can be recorded accurately with ultrasound scans. The presence of such deposits places an individual at high risk yet intervention with modern medical therapy can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 50%.”

Dr Mohsen Chabok, Medical Research Physician, Life Line Screening UK, said: “Arterial imaging of the carotid peripheral circulation can be used to further refine risk based on Framingham Risk Scoring. More accurate diagnosis allows more targeted treatment. I think it is time to seriously consider the value of ultrasound screening for vascular disease in asymptomatic patients.”

This new research and interpretation of existing data and current approaches to prevention and treatment of vascular disease was presented at a special session of the IUA by members of the Scientific Advisory Network on behalf of Life Line Screening. 

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