How old is your heart? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

How old is your heart?

Do you know your vascular age? It is very easy to determine with a simple test that has the potential to save your life -- it could even add years to it!

The test is called vascular age testing.

Using vascular ultrasound, doctors can now pinpoint a patient's heart age. That is how old they are based on the thickness of the artery wall in their neck. The older someone's vascular age is, the more likely they are to develop clogged arteries that can lead to heart attacks.

Dr. David Carmouche is a big believer in vascular age screening.

"There are plenty of clinical studies that correlate the changes in the carotid artery wall with what we see in the heart arteries," he said.

Kay Solar's first test showed that her heart was 15 years older than she is. What made her results even more disturbing is the cholesterol numbers from before her first vascular age test were good.

Cholesterol is a prime cause of clogged arteries.

Things began to make more sense when Dr. Carmouche thought about Solar's family history.

"My father had a triple bypass when I was 50 and had cardiac problems," said Solar.

Since her first vascular aging test, she wasn't put on hormone replacement therapy, one of several treatment options she was offered to improve her risk profile. 

"We actually saw that her arteries look younger than they did before," said Carmouche.

Treatment actually shaved four years off Solar's vascular age, which means her odds of having a heart attack or even a stroke are lower, too.

"I think anyone middle-aged who has any risk factors for heart disease, including a family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure or obesity; any of those patients would be a candidate for this test," said Carmouche.

But you should note: Because vascular screening is considered a preventive test, your insurance probably doesn't cover it.

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