Protect Your Heart from Plaque Build-Up

Age, genetics, and certain behaviors can increase your risks for various types of heart disease, including arteriosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries). If you’re over age 45 and are a smoker, your potential risk factors may mean it’s time for you to visit the endovascular specialists at the Vascular Center of Mobile.

How do I know if I have plaque build-up or arteriosclerosis?

Using a non-invasive test called intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), the Vascular Center can virtually look into the arteries surrounding the heart to determine how much atheromatous plaque has built up in your epicardial coronary arteries. Those are arteries and their branches that lie on the surface of the heart.

The test can also show whether you have more or less plaque since your previous tests, or if you haven’t had a prior evaluation, it can provide a baseline for future tests.

Why is it important to monitor plaque build-up?

Over decades, plaque can accumulate within your artery wall, which lays the groundwork for the development of vulnerable plaque, which promotes blood clotting. As blood clots form, they can lead to a heart attack or stenosis (narrowing) of the artery. These areas of vulnerable plaque are known as coronary artery lesions.

Through IVUS imagine, your doctor can determine the volume of plaque that may have accumulated within the walls of the arteries and also see if the plaque is significantly narrowing the artery opening that allows for proper blood flow.

Is IVUS a better diagnostic test than other options?

Though other tests are available, the IVUS is especially useful when other imaging tests might be considered unreliable. For example, it can provide better imaging where angiographic images don’t provide a complete picture of specific segments, such as regions with multiple arterial segments overlap.

The IVUS can also show any progress made through treatments of stenosis – for example, hydraulic angioplasty expansion of the artery, with or without stents, and the results of medical therapy over time.  However, the greatest value IVUS offers is the ability to view plaque which simply can’t be seen by angiography.

Why choose the Vascular Center of Mobile?

For more than 30 years, the Vascular Center of Mobile has provided full-service vascular surgery and endovascular care. They specialize in diagnosing and treating artery and vein disorders with minimally invasive techniques and care options, including ultrasound, duplex, and Doppler flow studies for arteries and veins.

We take pride in offering state-of-the-art procedures to meet all vascular treatment needs. We also work hard to put our patients first, treating them individually as they would their own family. We bring our knowledge of the science and research of vascular problems to you and your loved ones.

If you are in a high-risk group for arteriosclerosis – age 45 or older, a smoker, have high blood pressure or cholesterol – please consider visiting the Vascular Center of Mobile for an assessment. Early detection and treatment can make a significant difference in your health.