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Vascular Health Screening

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(608) 263-7420
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At UW Health Heart and Vascular Care in Madison, Wisconsin, the Vascular Health Screening Program helps physicians identify patients with atherosclerosis - hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks, stroke and impaired blood flow to the legs - before it can be detected with blood or stress tests.
Vascular health screening involves a painless test that does not require undressing, exercising or drawing blood. Approximately two weeks after you have completed the test, you will have a private session with a preventive cardiology clinician who is an expert on cardiovascular risk assessment and personalized counseling.
If you have any questions about the Vascular Health Screening Program, please feel free to call us at (608) 263-7420. Physicians interested in vascular health screening can access more technical information, including sample images, in our For Health Professionals: Vascular Health Screening section.
What is Vascular Health Screening?
Vascular health screening at UW Health involves a unique test that is recommended for select patients based on several national and international guidelines. This test provides patients with a benchmark of their heart and vascular risk for disease and counseling to improve their health.
We have performed more than 1,000 vascular health screening studies and are the national leader for this technique. The sophisticated scanning and measurement techniques were pioneered by UW Health Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Care staff.
Who Should Undergo Vascular Screening?
This program is for people between 40 and 70 years old without known heart disease. Vascular health screening improves assessment of cardiovascular risk, particularly in individuals who smoke and/or have a family history of:
  • Heart disease
  • Cholesterol disorders
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes

What Happens During the Vascular Screening?


Ultrasound is used to measure the thickness of the walls of your carotid arteries, also known as carotid intima-media thickness, or "CIMT." This is a safe, non-invasive test in which you lie flat for 30 to 40 minutes. A small amount of gel is applied to your neck. We use sound beams to assess your carotid artery, because as the walls of this artery become thicker, your risk of having a heart attack or stroke increases.


CIMT measurement offers several advantages over the electron beam or multidetector computed tomography (EBCT or MDCT), commonly called "heart scans." CIMT does not involve exposure to radiation, is less expensive than a heart scan and is a proven predictor of cardiovascular risk.


Learn more about CIMT Measurement for "Vascular Age"


Interpreting the Vascular Screening


After the screening, a private session will be scheduled with a preventive cardiology clinician who is an expert on cardiovascular risk assessment and personalized counseling. We will provide personalized guidance concerning exercise, diet, smoking cessation and control of your risk factors for heart and blood vessel disease.


Questionnaires, computer programs and measurement of your body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels also are used in your 45-minute post-screening counseling session. Please have your fasting cholesterol and blood sugar levels measured in advance of your counseling session.


How to Sign Up for Screening


Your physician must order the vascular health screening tests for you, and can do so by calling (608) 263-7420.




In the Madison area, insurance coverage usually is provided by Unity, Group Health Cooperative or Physicians Plus if patients meet all of the following criteria:

  • The patient is referred by his or her primary care physician
  • The patient does not have known atherosclerotic vascular disease
  • The patient is 40 to 70 years old
  • The patient has "intermediate" risk, defined as a 10-year risk of myocardial infarction or coronary death of 10-20 percent, or 6-20 percent for patients with a family history of premature heart disease

These definitions are outlined in the NCEP ATP III Guidelines and the Framingham risk prediction algorithm in those guidelines. Please check with your provider.


Payment for all charges related to the Vascular Health Screening Program must be made prior to testing. A report of the tests and risk assessment session will be sent to your ordering physician. You will get a copy of the report at the time of your personalized counseling session.


For the current self-pay cost for the test, call 608-263-7420.