Carotid artery ultrasound: Should you have this test?
This screening test is simple and painless, but it isn't appropriate for most people.
Image: © VILevi/Thinkstock
For years, for-profit companies have mailed offers for health screening tests to homes across the United States. For about $150, you can undergo a series of ultrasound scans, which the companies claim can uncover potentially dangerous cardiovascular conditions. One scan looks at your carotid arteries, which run up either side of your neck.
Just like arteries in the heart and elsewhere in the body, the carotid arteries can become clogged with fatty deposits. Narrowing of a carotid artery (also called carotid artery stenosis) can increase the risk of stroke — the narrower the artery, the higher the risk.