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Ultrasound of Neck Predicts Who Will Have a Stroke

Study Shows Ultrasound Can Determine Stroke Risk Even if Patients Have No Symptoms

Determining Stroke Risk continued...

If these findings are reproduced by other researchers, they could change the way ACS is evaluated and treated, he says. As it stands, using ultrasound to look at plaque composition is common. The Doppler ultrasound test, however, is time consuming and the results can vary based on the technician performing the test.

Tatjana Rundek, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, routinely evaluates ACS patients using these two screening tools.

"These individuals have a disease but don't have symptoms yet, so this field is sort of divided," she says. "We would love to select patients at the highest risk for stroke for surgery."

"It is not enough to know the percent of [narrowing]. We need to know the composition of the plaque and what it looks like and the potential for embolization," she says.

Screening Potential

Itzhak Kronzon, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, says evaluation for patients with ACS starts with taking a thorough medical history including neurological exam. "If you have ACS, the likelihood of a stroke is small, but if you do have a stroke, it is devastating."

The Doppler test is not a standard part of assessing stroke risk in people with ACS, and Kronzon doesn't think it should be widely recommended based on these study results. More study is needed before this becomes common practice, he says.

In an accompanying editorial, Lars Marquardt, MD, the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, writes that overall risk of stroke among people with ACS is relatively low and has decreased due to better management through cholesterol and high blood pressure drugs in recent years.

"If techniques like the one presented by [study researcher] Topekian are confirmed to be able to detect patients that have a higher than normal risk of stroke, screening of patients with this technique seems necessary," he writes in an email to WebMD.

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