Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Coronary Heart Disease in Symptomatic Subjects With Advanced Vascular Atherosclerosis of the Carotid Artery (Type III and IV b Findings Using Ultrasound)

Ansgar Adams, Waldemar Bojara, Klaus Schunk


Background: A study was conducted as to whether the early diagnosis of coronary heart disease (CHD) in symptomatic patients with advanced atherosclerosis of the carotid artery was more successful using ultrasound technology than exercise electrocardiography (ECG).

Methods: Within the scope of an occupational screening program using subjects from diverse employment sectors, people were given the opportunity to determine their risk of heart attack. During the study, the total plaque area (TPA), the maximum plaque thickness in the carotid artery and the PROCAM scores of 3,513 healthy men and 2,088 healthy women between the ages of 20 and 65 were determined. During the subsequent follow-up study, 36 subjects developed symptoms such as exertional dyspnea, atypical angina pectoris (AP) or typical AP. Four patients displayed no symptoms. The initial cardiac diagnostic testing was conducted on 31 patients using an exercise ECG, four patients were assessed using a coronary angiogram, and five further patients were assessed using a computed tomography (CT) coronary angiogram. An ultrasound examination of the carotid artery of 39 patients revealed a type IV b finding and in one patient, the examination revealed a type III finding.

Results: In 17 patients, the PROCAM score was < 10%, 13 patients had a score of 10-20% and 10 patients had a score of > 20%. In the final analysis, only two patients had entirely smooth coronary arteries, seven had coronary sclerosis, seven had a 30% stenosis, one had a 30-40% stenosis, one had a 40% stenosis, and 22 patients had a stenosis ≥ 50%, and in extreme cases, a left main coronary artery stenosis with three-vessel disease was shown. The exercise ECG only achieved a true positive result in four patients, and in 21 patients, the result was false negative.

Conclusions: Symptomatic patients with advanced atherosclerosis of the carotid artery (type III and type IV b findings) had a high risk for CHD. The diagnosis of CHD is better achieved by using carotid duplex than with an exercise ECG. Early treatment of the disease improves the patient’s prognosis.

Cardiol Res. 2017;8(1):7-12
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/cr516w



Total plaque area; Carotid duplex; Cardiovascular risk; Coronary heart disease; PROCAM score

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