Background: The aim of this multicenter study was to determine if identifying increased carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) or carotid plaque during office-based ultrasound screening examinations could alter physicians' treatment plans and patients' motivation regarding health-related behaviors.
Methods: Carotid ultrasound studies were performed by a nonsonographer clinician using a handheld system. Changes in physicians' treatment plans and patients' motivation on the basis of scan results were analyzed using multivariate regression.
Results: There were 253 subjects (mean age, 58.1 +/- 6.6 years). When increased CIMT or carotid plaque was detected, physicians were more likely to prescribe aspirin and lipid-lowering therapy (P < .001). Subjects were more likely to report increases in plans to take cholesterol-lowering medication (P = .002) and the perceived likelihood of having or developing heart disease (P = .004).
Conclusions: Findings from office-based carotid ultrasound studies can influence physicians' prescriptions of evidence-based interventions. Patients with abnormal ultrasound findings recognize their increased cardiovascular risk and plan to take cholesterol-lowering medication.