A study published in the World Heart Federation’s journal, Global Heart has revealed the potential of portable ultrasound technology to detect plaque in peripheral arteries. This early detection allows doctors to employ preventative treatments that can stop heart attacks and stroke before symptoms appear.
The study found that the portable ultrasound could detect plaque buildup in both the carotid arteries (those in the neck) and the ileofemoral arteries (entering the top of the leg). The slow buildup of plaque in arteries over time is a progressive disease called atherosclerosis. This YouTube video explains the disease in depth (Get comfortable, at 5:36, it’s not the shortest):
Overall, the new approach detected plaque buildup in a greater percent of the population that would have been identified using standard risk-based evaluations. The question remain, should ultrasound screening take precedence of tradition risk-based methods? Dr. Tasneem Z Naqvi, Professor of Medicine at the Mayo College of Medicine and Division of Cardiology, argued, “This study makes a compelling argument in favor of imaging for screening.”
The new portable ultrasound technology provides increased function and automation over traditional ultrasounds. This can allow even “non-expert users to rapidly evaluate the presence of subclinical atherosclerosis in a large population,” according to the authors of the study.
Ultrasounds are already a preferred method of testing large populations because of their safety. Ultrasounds use low-power sound waves to identify and evaluate multiple medical conditions, and have even been used in diagnosing cancer. As the technology progresses, it is only going to become more economical and user-friendly.
Professor Paul Leeson, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Oxford and Clinical Director of the Oxford Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility, UK, and not connected to the study or the journal, says: “Ultrasound seems to be firmly establishing itself as the advanced imaging technology of choice for global health care issues. Current ultrasound scanners generate accurate cardiovascular measures safely, rapidly and relatively inexpensively.”
We agree, and cannot wait to see this technology in action across the globe.