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Now Available in Fredericksburg: Painless Screening Exam To Help Prevent Heart Attacks, Strokes

FREDERICKSBURG, Va., Dec. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A painless screening exam that provides early warning of risks for heart attacks and strokes is now available to patients in the Fredericksburg area, physicians with Virginia Interventional & Vascular Associates (VIVA) announced today.

The carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) screening exam is used at major medical centers to detect early signs of atherosclerosis, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, explained Dr. R. Donald Doherty, Jr., board-certified, fellowship-trained interventional radiologist and director of non-invasive vascular services for VIVA.

CIMT screening measures the thickness of the inner walls of the carotid artery with the aid of enhanced ultrasound technology. Vascular technologists perform the exam by placing an ultrasound probe against the patient's neck, where the artery is located. The exam takes about 30 minutes and does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation.

A board-certified interventional radiologist then compares the measurements with the patient's medical history and data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, providing results to patients the same day.

Exam results can help patients and referring physicians make changes in diet, exercise, and/or medications that can reduce the chances of heart attacks and strokes.

"CIMT screening is a very useful, non-invasive test for evaluating a patient's risk of having a heart attack or stroke," Dr. Doherty said. "Based on the results, we can contact the physician responsible for the patient's care to indicate whether the patient may be at medium or high risk for heart attack and stroke. Then the physician can determine whether the patient needs to be treated more aggressively."

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology have concluded that CIMT screening by qualified providers can benefit patients who are at intermediate risk of cardiovascular disease.

Based on medical guidelines[*], VIVA recommends that the following patients consider CIMT screening:

  • Women ages 55-75 with one or more risk factors.
  • Men ages 45-75 with one or more risk factors.
  • Risk factors can include: uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, obesity, smoking more than one pack of cigarettes a day, or a family history of heart disease.

Most insurance companies do not cover the exam, which costs $175 at VIVA.

VIVA's vascular laboratory is accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission for Vascular Laboratories. Its vascular technologists are registered through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.

For information, call 855-411-CIMT (2468) or visit

*Several groups have issued different medical guidelines for CIMT screening, including Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education (SHAPE), and the American Society of Echocardiography.

SOURCE Virginia Interventional & Vascular Associates
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