The Lipid Center of Virginia

CIMT (Carotid Intima Media Thickness)

Why is CIMT Important?

Heart disease is the number one killer of American men and women, killing more people than all forms of cancer combined. About every 25 seconds, an American will suffer a heart attack and about every minute someone will die from one.  About every 40 seconds, an American will suffer a stroke.

Early detection can lead to early intervention and early intervention can prevent events.  CIMT provides early detection of risk for heart disease and stroke.  Your physician can use the results of your CIMT scan, in combination with your cardiac risk factors, to create an individualized action plan.

Many patients who develop heart disease have normal cholesterol levels and lack other indicators of risk.

CIMT can be reduced by lifestyle modifications and therapeutic interventions.

The American Heart Association (AHA) and Adult Treatment Panel of the National Cholesterol Education Program (ATP III) recognize CIMT as a reliable and safe means for assessing undetected vascular disease.

 What is CIMT? 

CIMT is a measure of the thickness of the first two layers of the carotid artery located in the neck.  Increased thickness of the artery wall is an early indicator of vascular disease and happens without any symptoms, often starting in the teenage years.  The thicker the arterial wall, the greater the risk for heart attack or stroke.  

What does the CIMT testing involve? 

  • It is a non-invasive, safe, and painless ultrasound               examination with no radiation exposure.
  • The testing takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
  • Ultrasound equipment will be utilized and expert interpretation is required. 

Who should have a CIMT test?

If you are between the ages of 25 and 80 years old and interested in assessing your arterial health then we can perform the test.  The CIMT test however is most appropriate for individuals 40-70 years old and at risk for heart disease based on the cardiovascular risk factors below:

  • Family history of heart disease and/or stroke
  • Overweight or Physically Inactive
  • Tobacco user
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL or low HDL cholesterol
  • Elevated triglycerides

Contact us at 540-588-7115 or email us at if you are interested in setting up an appointment for CIMT testing. 

George Chaconas, M.D., Diplomate, American Board of Clinical Lipidology

How old are your arteries?

With the results from your CIMT exam, we can determine your “vascular age” and use this information to decide how aggressive to be with your treatment. thus truly individualizing each patient’s regimen.      

Above is a typical ultrasound image of the carotid artery obtained during a CIMT evaluation.  This is a 55 y.o. male. whose computer aided measurements showed that his intima media thickness was in the normal range.

This is a 55 y.o. male. whose computer aided measurements showed that his intima media thickness was worse than the average 75 year old.  This patient had no idea his arteries were aging this rapidly.  Fortunately, with aggressive treatment of risk factors, many patients can make their lining thinner and decrease their future risk of  cardiovascular events.