New test measures health of arteries

June 1, 2012 4:59:09 PM PDT
If you've ever wondered what your "real" age is, now there's an easy test to find out.

Diann Goolsby has had a lot of heartbreak in her life.

"I have an uncle that passed away suddenly at 33, I had a sister that had a heart attack at 28," she said.

But the most heartbreaking story is of her son Tyler. At 10, Tyler had a cholesterol level of 400. He stayed active and tried to be healthy through law school. But it didn't work.

"Tyler had a massive heart attack and passed away. He was 27 years old," Goolsby said.

Their family carries a defective gene that causes extremely high cholesterol. Now, Goolsby tries to do what she can to stay healthy. And she took a new, easy test to learn the "real age" of her arteries.

"If we can look at what's happening in the artery, how thick it is, it really gives us a better idea what is the risk for having a heart attack or stroke," Methodist Hospital Dr. Christie Ballantyne said.

Sound waves measure the thickness of carotid artery walls. The real name of the real age test is Carotid IMT. Dr. Ballantyne says it's a good idea for people with family history like Goolsby's.

"We measure things like cholesterol and blood pressure. We know about diabetes and family histories but we don't really know what's happening in the artery," Dr. Ballantyne said.

Goolsby's results? Her real artery age is 15 years younger than her chronological age!

"It's very exciting to get a good report and that's one more thing not to have to worry about," she said.

If you want to check your "real" artery age, it's easy. It costs $200, and we're told most insurance companies will pay for it. You can participate in the Methodist cholesterol study with Caroitid IMT test by calling call 713-798-3171.

Or if you're just curious, you can schedule to take the test by calling 713-790-3333.


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