There’s a new preventive scan on the Island, and it could just save your life.
Ariana Feldberg, a former dental technician, is now a certified Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT) scan technician, and she’s on a mission to help as many people as she can.
CIMT scans measure the thickness of the innermost layers of the carotid artery, the major blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, neck, and face. The scan detects atherosclerotic plaque responsible for most heart attacks and strokes. The plaque can rupture and go to your heart or brain, leading to either a stroke or heart attack. Both advanced and early cardio and cerebrovascular disease are detected.
The scan is simple. Feldberg applies a gel to the patient’s neck and scans it using an ultrasound machine. No needle pricks, no disrobing, and no radiation. It takes Feldberg 30 to 60 minutes to do the scan.
The process is confidential, and Feldberg doesn’t receive the results of the scan. After she scans her patients, she sends the information to CardioRisk Laboratories in Utah. In one to three weeks, patients receive their results by mail. Results will show either red, yellow, or green. If green, Feldberg recommends being rescanned once every three years. If in the yellow or red, she says a scan should be done every year.
Each scan costs $250. Feldberg said some insurance companies cover scans, and may reimburse for them.
Feldberg’s passion for CIMT scans came while she was taking the certification course and made a startling discovery. The strict course involves intensive study and tests before certification is granted. While she scanned other people, Feldberg was also scanned, and discovered she had an 85 percent chance of having a major heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years. This came as a complete shock to Feldberg, who takes care of herself, has no family history of heart disease, is not overweight, and has low cholesterol.
“In class, it saved my life,” Feldberg said. “I really want to help people. This is something that is a gap in health care.”
The scan, however, is not frequently used by doctors. A director at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), who asked not to be named, told The Times that no doctor at MGH would verify the legitimacy of the scans. Instead, many doctors provide comprehensive scans that include searching for atherosclerotic plaque.
“It needs to be more mainstream, and people just don’t know it exists,” Feldberg said.
CEO and president of CardioRisk Laboratories Todd Eldredge told The Times CIMT scans are a preventive measure, and pointed to the 10-year CAFES-CAVE study which found the scans were useful in determining the risk of cardiovascular events in patients who were asymptomatic.
“I can certainly appreciate why nobody at a hospital would ‘verify the legitimacy of CIMT scans.’ For starters, hospitals are places for sick people, and do very little in the way of prevention,” Eldredge said.
Feldberg also created a website, carotidcare.com, and plans to have it up and running this week. She operates out of Island Dentistry at 23 Airport Road. Her office phone is 508-645-2006 and cell is 508-344-8595. She can also be reached by email at email@example.com. So far she’s scanned a dozen people, and plans to scan many more, and raise awareness about atherosclerotic plaque.
While some may not want to pay the $250 price, Feldberg says it should be put in perspective and could save your life.
“$250 is one, maybe two dinners with two people. Are you willing to forgo those two dinners in the short term to enjoy them in the long term?”