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Intima Media Thickness Measurement: Definition, Predictive Value on Cardiovascular Events, and Contribution to Cardiovascular Risk Evaluation

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Noninvasive Vascular Diagnosis
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Atherosclerosis prevention and its progression has become an important goal in medicine. Atherosclerotic disease is a long and silently evolving disease and hardly reversible when clinical events occur. New biomarkers are useful if they can help in the early characterization of a population that is at intermediate risk in order to detect vascular risk phenotypes and improve their management. Ultrasonography of the carotid arteries is safe, inexpensive, and easy to perform, and it is a reliable and accurate method to detect early signs of increased thickness of the arterial wall or plaque occurrence. Intima media thickness of the carotid artery (CIMT) and plaque are recognized biomarkers which can improve our knowledge and practice in the field of cardiovascular disease evaluation and prevention.

From 1986 to nowadays, thousands of publications have demonstrated the potential of CIMT to anticipate coronary and stroke disease and to provide signals on cardiovascular risk factors by their significant association to hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking.

If some recommendations are now published by American and European societies, and standardization of the method is ready for use in clinical practice, we need more data on reference values in different countries to address for clinical use the best accuracy for cardiovascular risk evaluation in individuals. Framingham score may be poor for a large group of patients at intermediate risk and some at low risk. The combination of Framingham score and IMT and/or plaque evaluation may increase the power to prevent myocardial infarction and stroke as demonstrated by recent studies; however, Framingham score only provides the cardiovascular risk at 10 years. This limit makes more difficult the comparison between a score and a biomarker.

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Correspondence to Pierre-Jean Touboul M.D. .

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Touboul, PJ. (2013). Intima Media Thickness Measurement: Definition, Predictive Value on Cardiovascular Events, and Contribution to Cardiovascular Risk Evaluation. In: AbuRahma, A., Bandyk, D. (eds) Noninvasive Vascular Diagnosis. Springer, London.

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