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Much has been learned in the second half of the 20th century on underlying risk factors and strategies for cardiovascular disease prevention.
One of the tools that have become very important to improve patients’ outcomes regarding the diagnosis, screening and surveillance of vascular diseases is vascular ultrasound.
For example, carotid arteries ultrasound is a first-line imaging able to provide, in a non-invasive way, a unique ‘window’ into the identification of a patient’s underlying cardiovascular risk.
Quantification of carotid arterial plaque has emerged as an important tool for CVD risk stratification as it improves the risk prediction beyond what is provided by cardiovascular risk scores.
Various recommendations provide a framework for clinicians. For example, the recommendations for the assessment of carotid arterial plaque by ultrasound for the characterisation of Atherosclerosis and Evaluation of Cardiovascular Risk, recently published by the American Society of Echocardiography contain valuable information. It focuses on the ultrasound methods used to quantify carotid plaque, when present, for the purpose of cardiovascular risk stratification.
The increasing reliance on vascular ultrasound imaging for vascular disease management demands that healthcare professionals familiarise themselves with this technique and follow international recommendations. It involves both knowledge and skills.