Measurement of carotid intimal-media thickness (CIMT or IMT) is one of the best methods for detecting the early stages of vascular disease. CIMT measures the buildup of the atherosclerosis that starts in the arterial wall. It is formed from the buildup of plaque within the arteries from fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste, calcium and fibrin.
Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease. As a patient grows older, it is normal to develop some thickening of the arteries. However, if the atherosclerosis is advanced as measured by CIMT, heart disease is likely. The buildup may lead to lesions or plaque intruding into the lumen that may partially or totally block blood flow through an artery.
Detected early, the progression of atherosclerosis in the arterial wall can be arrested and reversed with proper treatment that may include diet and lifestyle changes by the patient as well as possible pharmacological intervention.