Treadmill, stress echocardiography, Thallium and Angiography do not detect early blockages. Treadmill can miss blockages up to 70%; stress echocardiography up to 60%, ngiography upto 40%.Most heart attacks occur because of a plaque rupture in patients with blockages of less than 50%. If the blockage is more than 70% the patient usually presents with heart pain and not massive heart attack.
Addressing a press conference here, Padma Shri & Dr. B.C. Roy National Awardee Dr. KK Aggarwal, who is also a Senior Consultant in Moolchand Medcity and President Heart Care Foundation of India, said that the only way to detect heart blockages before they cause symptoms or are detected in conventional tests is to measure the wall thickness of the neck artery or the leg artery. Normally, the wall thickness is less than 0.5mm. If the wall thickness is more than 0.75mm, it is suggestive of underlying heart blockages and if it is more than 1mm, it is suggestive of blockages in all three arteries of the heart.
Any thickness of more than 1mm is called as a plaque and a plaque area calculated by high resolution ultrasound is a new marker for heart blockages, progression as well as regression.
If the artery wall is thick in both the neck artery and the leg artery, it is very likely that the patient will also have blockages in the arteries of the heart.
All high risk individuals, therefore, should have their neck and leg artery wall thickness check-up done. Only 2% of patients with blockages in all three arteries of the heart have a neck artery wall thickness of less than 1mm and 94% of patients with a neck artery wall thickness of more than 1.15mm will have multiple blockages in the heart.
Launching the campaign, Ms Shovana Narayan, noted Kathak exponent, said that most Indians were immune to heart diseases in the past as they used to follow conventional rituals and participated in classical yoga or dances. Today, the faulty western lifestyle adopted by Indians is responsible for the new epidemic leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart blockages etc.
Most heart blockages are inflicted in adolescence and early adult age. There is enough data to suggest that thickening of the neck artery starts in high risk children and very young people. Plaque formation usually occurs after the age of 35. Therefore, before the age of 35, a leg artery wall thickness is the only test to know future chances of heart attack and paralysis.
With the availability of advanced software, most advanced cardiac centres in Delhi with high resolution echocardiography machine can do this test.
Women with chest pain and normal neck artery morphology may not need angiography and a neck artery wall thickness test of less than 0.55mm is also a predictor of patient’s significant blockages in the heart. A plaque thickness of more than 1.5mm is associated with family history of premature cardiac deaths.
Dr. Aggarwal said that Vasant Panchami falling on 8th February is the official Valentine’s Day in the Hindu calendar and one can celebrate this day by gifting a neck artery measurement to one’s beloved.
4th February is also a World Cancer Day and most cabers today are life style related. The examples are prostate, breast, lungs. The risk factors are same as that of heart blockages. Neck artery thickness is also a marker of future cancers in these patients.
Moolchand Medcity is organizing a special campaign on awareness of neck and keg artery thickness in the month of February. On the 13th of this month, there will be a family physician training program on this subject.